Elijah arose, a prophet like fire,
and his word burned like a torch.
He brought a famine upon them,
and by his zeal he made them few in number.
By the word of the Lord he shut up the heavens,
and also three times brought down fire.
How glorious you were, Elijah,
in your wondrous deeds!
Whose glory is equal to yours?
You raised a corpse from death
and from Hades, by the word of the Most High.
You sent kings down to destruction,
and famous men, from their sickbeds.
You heard rebuke at Sinai
and judgments of vengeance at Horeb.
You anointed kings to inflict retribution,
and prophets to succeed you.
You were taken up by a whirlwind of fire,
in a chariot with horses of fire.
At the appointed time, it is written,
you are destined to calm the wrath of God
before it breaks out in fury,
to turn the hearts of parents to their children,
and to restore the tribes of Jacob.
Happy are those who saw you
and were adorned with your love!
For we also shall surely live.
When Elijah was enveloped in the whirlwind,
Elisha was filled with his spirit.
He performed twice as many signs,
and marvels with every utterance of his mouth.
Never in his lifetime did he tremble before any ruler,
nor could anyone intimidate him at all.
Nothing was too hard for him,
and when he was dead, his body prophesied.
In his life he did wonders,
and in death his deeds were marvellous.
The Lord is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many isles be glad.
Clouds and darkness are round about him,
justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne. (R./)
Fire goes before him
and consumes his foes round about.
His lightnings illumine the world;
the earth sees and trembles. (R./)
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory. (R./)
All who worship graven things are put to shame,
who glory in the things of nought;
all gods are prostrate before him. (R./)
Jesus said, "When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
"Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
When the wise teacher, Ben Sirach, wrote a series of glowing vignettes about great spiritual heroes of the past, to inspire his students to cling to their Jewish heritage. Naturally he highlighted the merits of those great characters and glossed over their foibles. He spares no hyperbole in his portrayal of Elijah, as a prophet like fire, radiant with God's light, who powerfully defended the faith and upheld the traditions of Israelite religion in an era of rampant paganism. What might an Elijah perform for the restoration of biblical faith in Ireland today, or all round the developed areas of our world?
Relatives and friends of those priests of Ba'al who were slain by the lightning-bolt at the behest of the indignant prophet, might have a different picture of Elijah, as a man of violent rage and passionate conviction, for whom tolerance and ecumenism would be of no account. The most kindly term that could be used of him in the modern media would be "extremist."
While Elijah is mentioned several times in the Gospels, only once do they mention the violent episode on Mount Carmel when he called down fire from heaven. The early Christians preferred to remember him for his role as the announcer of the Messiah and the compassion he showed to the widow and her son during the famine. Hopefully in his old age this fiery prophet, tempered by flight and banishment, learned a milder spirit like that urged in the Sermon on the Mount.
The Lord's Prayer is reported in two gospels, Matthew and Luke. In Matthew, Jesus prefaced it by warning against using too many words, or babbling like the pagans did. It was pagan custom to bombard the gods with mere formulae to induce them to show favour. Christians must not to pray in such a mechanical way. Our God cannot be persuaded or manipulated by endless petitions. Rather, Jesus teaches us to willingly accept whatever our heavenly Father wills.
What is most important is God's glory, fulfilling His plan [the Kingdom] and doing God's will. We are to welcome our dependence on God and ask for our basic needs -- the food we need for the day, forgiveness of our faults and strength to go on living. The Lord's Prayer is powerful yet simple, and is in fact the iconic teaching on how we ought to pray.