June 9, 2020
by Sister Candice Tucci, O.S.F.
Creighton University's College of Nursing
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 360

1 Kings 17:7-16
Psalm 4:2-3, 4-5, 7B-8
Matthew 5:13-16

Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Being Mortal, is a best-selling book written by Dr. Atul Gawande. Nowadays, how could a title like this not be so popular? Dr. Gawande was also featured on the PBS news journal, Frontline. This past semester I was invited by one of our nursing faculty to join her class about palliative care and the dying. I viewed this episode of Frontline in preparation for this class as it was assigned to the students to watch it. Dr. Gawande interviewed and met with several patients and their doctors in his own search to know how to inform patients in a more compassionate and honest way that they were dying. It was powerful. The class discussion was also. But here I would like to share his final words at the end of the Frontline episode. “How is dying ever acceptable? Human beings live for something bigger than ourselves.”
In our first reading today, Elijah, prophet of God, knows of God’s fidelity. He just came from the desert as God had directed him to do and go to this widow and her son. Both, the widow and her son, were preparing and were ready to die as a result of the drought. No rain…no crops…no food! Enter Elijah, sent with a promise from God, telling her to use her last morsel of flour to feed them, with a guarantee the jar of oil would not go dry, nor the flour empty until the rains come. The outcome? They lived! They lived believing in something bigger than themselves.

Elijah, living his prophetic call was known to have been a vessel of many miracles witnessing to God’s faithful presence, and proclaiming God’s provident word. He used the gifts he was given by God. It is told that he left this earth alive in a chariot of fire attached to horses of fire. He entered Heaven through “fire."  Elijah was filled with fire, his passion for God.

In the Gospel, here is Jesus, like Elijah, living his prophetic call in his time, compelling us in our time to use the gifts we have even during this pandemic.

“…your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”

To light a lamp years ago, was to light it with fire. We are each called to fire! We are born to be fire. Born to be a light in the darkness by using the gifts we have been given. What is our fire and passion? How can we transform the world with the gifts and talents God has given to us? Do we let what has been given to us by God shine forth for the glory of God? Each person can answer that for him or herself.

One day, I stood by a sculpture on campus at Creighton University, it is The Flame, by artist/professor Littleton Alston.  I observed how the reflecting light upon the highly polished stainless steel, takes on the images of the surrounding environment. The colors and shapes that became part of this artform, results in this sculpture taking on new life that changes each day by the interaction with the universe, with each person. Complete, with the “eternal flame” at the core of this sculpture I see it as a flame of transformative energy!

Perhaps at this time of CONVID-19, or other times as well, we may find our flames dwindling as the widow in our first reading was experiencing. I believe our fire is stronger as we grow in greater consciousness of what it means to live in relationship with one another. How I/we live may help to secure life, and the fire of my/our love will conquer the coronavirus. What is the fire in your belly? How does life change each day as we walk through our world? St. Ignatius of Loyola tells us to “go set the world on fire.”

Fire burns in the core of each one of us where the Spirit dwells. It is this fire that is transformative. This fire of God’s love will triumph over death because “human beings live for something bigger than ourselves.” Elijah, the widow, her son and especially, Jesus, all knew what it was to “being mortal” and being fire!  We recently celebrated the Ascension and Pentecost.  Jesus returned to heaven and sent us FIRE--the HOLY SPIRIT -- the fire of God’s Love.

Lord, let your face, your FIRE, shine on us.
Spirit of the living God, renew the face of our earth!

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