Mea Culpa

Wednesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

1 Kgs 18:20-39

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I apologize for the long absence.  Fortunately Christians are a forgiving people so I hope I won’t be stoned.

Fire is a funny thing.  The other day I was at my late mother-in-law’s house helping clean things up.  Since I was working in the garage, I took the opportunity to enjoy a cigar, something I would never do in the house.  I took some bags of trash out to the back yard and threw the extinguished stogy into the burn barrel.  [For you city kids, a burn barrel is something they use out in the country to dispose of combustible trash.]

When I returned with another bag of trash there was a roaring fire going in the aforementioned barrel.  Here’s the thing.  My kids make fun of me because of my inability to get a camp fire started.  When they were young we used to go camping a lot and I admit to being less than successful as a fire starter.  More than once they had to eat raw hot dogs because I couldn’t get a fire going with three weeks worth of newspapers, two bags of kindling, three cans of charcoal lighter and wood that had been drying for over a year.

You know those bags of charcoal that are supposed to start with just one match.  I couldn’t get a spark out of one of them with a blow torch.  But I toss what I thought was an unlit cigar into a barrel of twigs and Smoky Bear is shaking his finger at me and making threatening gestures with his shovel.

It’s kind of like Baal’s prophets.  Elijah has been trying to convert the people to the Lord, but they just can’t make up their minds.  So Elijah says “Let’s have a contest.  I’m the Lord’s only living prophet.  Baal has 450 prophets.  Let’s get two young bulls.  We’ll build two fires.  I’ll put my bull on one fire.  You guys put your bull on the other.  Whoever’s god lights his guy’s fire is the winner.”

Baal’s 450 prophets spend the whole morning asking Baal to light their fire.  They hopped around the altar and did everything they could to wake Baal up, but there was no answer.  Elijah made fun of them and said maybe Baal’s on vacation or maybe he’s just asleep.  Try yelling louder.  They did yell louder and even slashed themselves with swords and spears.  Nothing.  I know the feeling.

Then Elijah told them to come over to HIS altar.  To make things more difficult, he even doused his wood with four jars of water, not just once but three times!  Then He asked the Lord to send His fire.

And He did.  He sent enough fire to burn up the meat, the wood, the stones, and even the dust.  The flames even lapped up the water.

Once the people saw what the Lord had done, the fell prostrate and said “The LORD is God!  The LORD is God!

And, He is.

The moral of this story is “Ask, and you shall receive.”  Or, only God can start a fire with wet wood.

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