Elijah is a model of Carmelite life as prophetic-contemplative-apostolic.
Three important quotations:
- The Lord lives, before whom I stand
- Zeal for the Lord has consumed me.
- God spoke in “the still, small voice.
His effectiveness as prophet, witness to God and his love, zealous for the truth of God without compromise, comes to the full after he has learned mercy at the Wadi Cherith.
Elijah is a model of spiritual poverty – it is when he feels he can do no more in his own strength, when he feels a failure, that he receives the message to go on in obedience and is fed by God.
Contemplation – hearing God speak in the silence; the practice of attentive living in the present in order to be present to God; the life of the desert where there is only God and the emptiness of one’s own heart.
Charity and boldness in prayer – the raising to life of the widow’s son. Trust in the use of the widow’s last resources also models for us the attitude to our human powers/gifts – we make what use of them we can, in humility and trust allowing God to use them as he will.
Elijah is evoked at key points in Jesus’ life – the desert and the Transfiguration. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) points out that Elijah’s call to live in the presence of God is only fully satisfied when he looks on the unveiled face of Christ on Tabor. Elijah points to the fulfilment of our calling to see God in Jesus.
Some Carmelite traditions re Elijah
- The brook of Cherith - contemplation.
- The small cloud - grace for the earth in the birth of the Virgin who will rain forth a saviour, Christ.
- Wilderness - inner silence & solitude
- chariot - rising above earth in faith; life in the Spirit.
Elijah as prophet
- It is contemplation, ie intimacy with God, which gives the prophet his message. Without this intimacy the prophet only speaks is own word.
- This intimacy also makes the prophet aware of the awesome nature of God – the source of his zeal.
- Prophets don’t foretell the future – they see the present clearly in the light of God’s truth and therefore see the consequences of a life or of actions which defy, deny or ignore him.
By Heather Ward Nottingham group