Week 13: Sunday

“You shall also anoint Jehu, son of Nimshi, as king of Israel, and Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, as prophet to succeed you.” (1 Kings 19:16.)

Saint Ephrem the Syrian offers the following insight on these verses from today’s Gospel proclamation:

“Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram.” As I have already said, “the sound of a sweet word” which comes after the storm and the fire divulged this good news. And what follows this manifestation fits perfectly with this context: Elijah, who had so far fled from Jezebel the queen, is now sent to anoint the kings and to hallow the prophets. And he anoints Hazael as king of Aram with his word; Jehu, son of Namsi, as king of Israel, judge of Ahab and avenger of innocent blood with oil; and Elisha [as prophet] with his mantle. Now, since the Lord had decided that those who had been condemned by Elijah because of their rebellion should receive the just retribution for their iniquity, their condemnation was prepared in this way: a part of the people would be punished by Hazael, king of Aram, whereas Ahab and Jezebel would receive their condemnation from Jehu; finally, if anything had been overlooked by them, Elisha would accomplish the task through the authority that the Lord had given him. And the people truly deserved punishment for not turning from their error. Even after learning the truth through the great and obvious signs that Elijah had performed, they did not abandon the worship of Baal. Also the sins of Ahab and Jezebel were great, well known and evident, and both of them had to be harshly punished for that reason. And since Jezebel had appointed new priests of Baal, her god, in order to replace those who had been killed by Elijah, it was necessary that they received the same punishment as their predecessors.

In addition, other reasons obliged Elijah to raise Elisha to the dignity of prophet exactly at that time when he was about to leave this world: first, in order to assist him in the time of affliction; second, in order to confirm through his word the event of the kidnapping of his master and his ascension to heaven because nobody had ever heard anything like that before. Therefore [Elijah elevated Elisha to the dignity of prophet] in order to cut short the lies of the priests of Baal who could not commend the works of Elijah, their persecutor, and tried with all their might to persuade the people with false words that the disciples of Elijah had entirely invented the kidnapping of their master and pretended that God had raised him to heaven.” (On the First Book of Kings, 19.)

O God,
who through the grace of adoption
chose us to be children of light,
grant, we pray,
that we may not be wrapped
in the darkness of error
but always be seen to stand
in the bright light of truth.
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