Beyond Contradiction

10th week in Ordinary Time, Friday

1 Kings 19:9-16, Psalm 27, Matthew 5:27-32

After a long, thunderous showdown with the prophets of Baal, ending with their destruction, Elijah was a prophet on the run from the wrath of Jezebel. The Lord listened to his complaints under a broom tree, fed him, and strengthened him for a long journey on foot to Mount Horeb. Alone and in silence during his forty day trek, Elijah had a lot of time to reflect on the events that had just taken place. 

He apparently received no directive to hide out in the cave because the Lord asked him, “Why are you here, Elijah?” 

He answered: “I have been most zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts, but the Israelites have forsaken your covenant. They have destroyed your altars and murdered your prophets by the sword. I alone remain, and they seek to take my life.”

No mention was made of the killing of the prophets of Baal. Elijah’s zeal was interrupted by an unusual theophany:

Then the Lord said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord—but the Lord was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the Lord was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the Lord was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound.

Theophanies to Moses on the same mountain involved thunder, lightning and fire. The same God came to Elijah in a gentle whisper. Is this a contradiction?

God is beyond contradictions and paradoxes. The Trinity is infinite and incomprehensible. Yet the infinite took form in finite flesh. The God of thunder and lightning began to be in the womb of a Virgin as a helpless embryo. The God of the silent sound denounced hypocrites. The Word made flesh spoke in figures about the unspeakable.

God cannot be put into a box. Not even the finite form of Christ remained in its earthly state in perpetuity. The destruction of his body released the Triple Light that opened the way for a transfigured humanity. 

All the violence and passion of Adam and his progeny were given free rein to strike God on the Cross. The innocent Lamb called us to wholeness and singleness of eye. Dramatic language about discarding an eye or a hand that causes sin underscores the nothingness of earthly attachments compared with the transfigured life for which we are made. The Triple Glory of the Transfiguration and the Cross is the apex to which a person of single (spiritual) eye is fixed.

“Your presence, O Lord, I seek. Hide not your face from me” (Psalm 27:8b-9a).

-GMC

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: