2 Kings 2:1.6-14
This is what happened when the Lord took Elijah up to heaven in the whirlwind: Elijah and Elisha set out from Gilgal, Elijah said, ‘Elisha, please stay here, the Lord is only sending me to the Jordan.’ But he replied, ‘As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you!’ And they went on together.
Fifty of the brotherhood of prophets followed them, halting some distance away as the two of them stood beside the Jordan. Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water; and the water divided to left and right, and the two of them crossed over dry-shod. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Make your request. What can I do for you before I am taken from you?’ Elisha answered, ‘Let me inherit a double share of your spirit.’ ‘Your request is a difficult one’ Elijah said. ‘If you see me while I am being taken from you, it shall be as you ask; if not, it will not be so.’ Now as they walked on, talking as they went, a chariot of fire appeared and horses of fire, coming between the two of them; and Elijah went up to heaven in the whirlwind. Elisha saw it, and shouted, ‘My father! My father! Chariot of Israel and its chargers!’ Then he lost sight of him, and taking hold of his clothes he tore them in half. He picked up the cloak of Elijah which had fallen, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.
He took the cloak of Elijah and struck the water. ‘Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?’ he cried. He struck the water, and it divided to right and left, and Elisha crossed over.
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men’s admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
‘And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them; I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
‘When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.’
Pray to your Father who is in that secret place
One of the toughest challenges for me I realise is to NOT DO ANYTHING. Yup. That’s pretty hard for me. Ever since I came to Chicago, I’ve been trying to find ways to busy myself. For instance, I’ll plan my itinerary about where I’ll go and what I’ll do. Even if it’s means cleaning the floors for my host, or fixing the toilet, I’ll do it. I’m just afraid to not do anything and leave a space of my time empty. It doesn’t matter that I have three months here and all the time in the world to discover my new neighbourhood, one brick at a time. I just have to have something to keep my hands, legs and head busy.
Crazy isn’t it?
Reflecting on today’s Gospel, I realised that the toughest challenge is not about finding a secret place to pray, but about simply “BEING” with God when we pray. For instance, just being in the moment, right there and then, wherever we are, having a secret conversation with God in our hearts, can be pretty tough for some of us. It’s tough because it feels like we’re just doing nothing, right in the middle of the moment, when we should be doing something instead! But that’s how it is with God. He loves to speak to us in the stillness of the moment, in the secrecy of our hearts, just like he did with Elijah (1 Kings 19:10-13).
Sometimes I think, God isn’t concerned about the stuff that catches attention, like the Pharisees are. He’s more interested instead about the stuff that’s not so obvious in our lives – like our hidden selves, the ones that actually reveal our authenticity, however imperfect they are. Are we willing to share with him our inner thoughts, dreams, hopes, remarks, comments and anxieties today? Are we willing to just pause and listen in the moment, and be with him, while we’re going through our day?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Cassandra Cheong)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you for just being with us, in our hearts, even when we’re least aware of it. Grant us the grace to just pause and experience you in little moments throughout our day. Help us to be conscious of you and your presence moving within us as we engage you more and more, everyday.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Father for the blessing of your Holy Spirit, that we may constantly be conscious of you.