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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

1 Kings 18,41-46

Elijah said to Ahab, 'Go back now, eat and drink; for I hear the approaching sound of rain.' While Ahab went back to eat and drink, Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel and bowed down to the ground, putting his face between his knees. 'Now go up', he told his servant, 'and look out to sea.' He went up and looked. 'There is nothing at all,' he said. Seven times Elijah told him to go back. The seventh time, the servant said, 'Now there is a cloud, small as a man's hand, rising from the sea.' Elijah said, 'Go and say to Ahab, "Harness the chariot and go down before the rain stops you." ' And with that the sky grew dark with cloud and storm, and rain fell in torrents. Ahab mounted his chariot and made for Jezreel. But the hand of Yahweh had come on Elijah and, hitching up his clothes, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Israel’s return to the their covenant with God also means the end of drought in the region. God’s protection pours over his people again, like blessed rain. Hunger and thirst end. Ahab—who in the past had sought water in vain—now is called by Elijah. The prophet invites him to get up, that is to end his fast and start eating. The prophets of Baal have all been killed; therefore punishment can stop and leave space for reconciliation. The meal then not only signifies reconciliation between Ahab, Elijah and Yahweh, but also the familiarity that every meal brings. We can compare this meal on Mount Carmel to that which happens on Sinai: Moses and the elders of the people: "they beheld God, and they ate and drank" (Ex 24: 9-11). During this meal Elijah tells the king that the rain will come. He goes to the highest point and enters a state of deep prayer. Elijah sends his servant to look toward the sea. The servant is sent seven times and each time returns without news. At the end he returns saying, "Look, a little cloud no bigger than a person’s hand is rising out of the sea." Actually from the eastern top of Mount Carmel—where the text seems to locate the event- - the Mediterranean Sea can be seen far off on the horizon. The other sides of the mountain are surrounded by deserts, which only produce suffocating heat and sand storms. From this scene, Jesus says in the Gospel: "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘ It is going to rain’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens" (Lk 12: 54-55). There is in any case a sign: a small cloud. And from it comes rain for the entire country. The Word of God invites disciples to scan the heavens for the "signs of the times" to be able to understand the way to follow. In fact, the servant is sent to warn the king so he can take cover. And Elijah, protected by the hand of God, runs ahead and gets there first.

Memory of the Church