11th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: 2 K2:1, 6–14*
Yahweh took Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind. It happened this way: Elijah and Elisha had left Gilgal, and Elijah said to Elisha.
Elijah said once more to Elisha, “Stay here, I beg you, for Yahweh is only sending me to the Jordan.” But Elisha answered, “I swear by Yahweh and by your life that I will never leave you.”
When Elijah and Elisha stood by the Jordan Elijah took his mantle, rolled it, and struck the water with it. The water parted to both sides and they crossed over on dry ground.
After they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “What shall I do for you before I am taken away from you? Ask me.” Elisha said, “Grant that I may have the best of your spirit.” Elijah answered, “Your request is most difficult. Yet if you see me while I am being taken from you, then you shall have it. But if not, you shall not have it.”
As they were talking on the way, a chariot of fire with horses of fire stood between them, and Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw him and cried out, “Father, my father, chariots of Israel and its horsemen!”
When Elisha lost sight of him, he took hold of his own clothes and tore them. He then picked up the mantle which had fallen from Elijah and returned to the banks of the Jordan.
Gospel: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Jesus said to his disciples, “Be careful not to make a show of your righteousness before people. If you do so, you do not gain anything from your Father in heaven. When you give something to the poor, do not have it trumpeted before you, as do those who want to be seen in the synagogues and in the streets in order to be praised by the people. I assure you, they have been already paid in full.
“If you give something to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your gift remains really secret. Your Father who sees what is kept secret, will reward you.
“When you pray, do not be like those who want to be seen. They love to stand and pray in the synagogues or on street corners to be seen by everyone. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is with you in secret; and your Father who sees what is kept secret will reward you.
“When you fast, do not put on a miserable face as do the hypocrites. They put on a gloomy face, so people can see they are fasting. I tell you this: they have been paid in full already. When you fast, wash your face and make yourself look cheerful, because you are not fasting for appearance or for people, but for your Father who sees beyond appearances. And your Father, who sees what is kept secret will reward you.”
One is left in doubt that a deep truthful interiority is essential to a Christian life. A tree has to sink its roots deep into the ground, otherwise it comes down in the first storm (or perhaps it does not because it has never been able to raise itself up). If you project your imagination down into the ground where the roots are, you find a strange world of darkness, silence, and stillness. This is the opposite of the world above ground; there you have light, noise, movement. We are like trees in that respect. If we identify our life with the public part, the part “above ground,” we will not be able to withstand the storms of life, and we will have no profound resources for growth. Our actions, our lives, like trees, emerge from a rich darkness, silence, and stillness.
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