— The Lord’s Day —

Ordinary Time
Sunday of the Nineteenth Week

Saint Ephrem the Syrian
“He lay down and fell asleep under the solitary broom tree, but suddenly a messenger touched him and said, “Get up and eat!”” (1 Kings 19:5)

Saint Ephrem the Syrian offers the following insight on these verses from today’s First Reading:

“The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.’” Elijah was sleeping under a tree. Now an angel came to him and woke him up (sleep was weighing him down because of his fatigue, affliction and discouragement) and provided him with strength and comfort through the meal that he prepared for him. The nourishment of the prophet consisted of bread baked in the ashes and his drink of water. “And he said, ‘The journey will be too much for you,’” that is, “you will not escape the affliction which you fear, through your death, as you believe, but through your flight. Therefore the journey is too long for you, and it is not like going to Cherith, a place close by. Rather, you are leaving for a distant location among foreign people where you will get peace and prosperity. That is why, until you are allowed to do so, you must eat and drink and prepare yourself to be strong enough for a long journey, because in a barren and desert land, you will not find any food.” Allegorically the bread baked in the ashes, which the vigilant [the angel] offers to Elijah, has two different meanings: on the one side, it immediately shows the toils of penitence which the ashes symbolize perfectly, since they are a figure of mourning and of a contrite heart; the unleavened bread soaked in ashes and the water are also the food of the poor and the miserable. But we can say, with greater accuracy, that they are figures of all the righteous, for whom the providence of the Creator has established a course of life in the paths of privation. Therefore he leads them through much suffering, privation of food and a severe fast in order to purify them completely from all the filth of earthly things. Then he guides them to the mountain, which is the perfection and the accomplishment of the saints.” (On the First Book of Kings, 19.)

Almighty ever-living God,
Whom, taught by the Holy Spirit,
we dare to call our Father,
bring, we pray, to perfection in our hearts
the spirit of adoption as Your sons and daughters,
that we may merit to enter into the inheritance
which You have promised.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Glory to the Father
and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen