When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.
Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan." But he replied, "As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you." So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, "Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you." Elisha said, "Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit." Elijah replied, "You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not."
As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, "Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" But when he could no longer see him, he rasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.
Elisha then picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took Elijah's mantle that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, "Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?" When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha crossed over.
How great is the goodness, O Lord,
which you have in store for those who fear you,
And which, toward those who take refuge in you,
you show in the sight of the children of men. (R./)
You hide them in the shelter of your presence
from the plottings of men;
You screen them within your abode
from the strife of tongues. (R./)
Love the Lord, all you his faithful ones!
The Lord keeps those who are constant,
but more than requites those who act proudly. (R./)
Jesus said, "Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
"So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
"And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
"And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you."
The beauty of today’s story is the continuation of Elijah’s work in the ministry he passed on to his faithful follower, Elisha. Armed with a double share of Elijah's powerful spirit, Elisha was to continue the vital work of prophesying, speaking truth to the powers of his day.
Elijah had mentored Elisha and taught him everything he knew. Elisha remained with his mentor until the very end, trying to absorb as much of his spirit as possible. Before the chariots of fire arrived to carry Elijah to heaven, Elisha begged to inherit a double share of his teacher’s spirit and his wish was granted.
We might take time today to think about people who have shaped our own life and led us to understand our own mission in the faith. We thank God for them and their good influence on us. If we are open, God may show us how to continue their legacy and live with a double portion of their spirit. How might we pass on the faith to the next generation?
Jesus urges us not to parade our good deeds before others to attract their notice. Earlier in that sermon, he seems to say the very opposite, "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good deeds and give glory to your Father in heaven." While there is surely a contrast between those two ideals, there is a real value in each of them. We are not meant to hide the light of our faith, keeping it under a bushel by seeming to be agnostic and non-commital. Rather, we should somehow show our love for the Lord by the way we live and the choices we make.
On the other hand, we need prudence and reserve in speaking about our beliefs. We don't publicly proclaim our religious views to win a name for ourselves, or to win approval from others. Rather, anything we say or do should be with due humility and for the glory of God. The Lord's Prayer shows us the priority, "Hallowed by your name, your kingdom come."