Why Are You Here?

“Elijah, why are you here?”

That’s the question the voice of the Lord poses to the Old Testament prophet in our first reading today from the First Book of Kings (19:9a, 11-16). Elijah is on the run. He has challenged and beat the 450 prophets of Baal in a showdown to prove that the Lord God is the one true God. His actions are acclaimed by the Israelites, who have been under the wicked rule of corrupt King Ahab and his pagan queen, Jezebel. “The Lord is God! The Lord is God” they acclaim in their desire to return to and renew their covenant with God. Their fealty to God and not to her is much for Jezebel and so she places a bounty on Elijah’s head, vowing to kill him within 24 hours for what God has manifested of himself through Elijah’s actions.

Elijah has escaped and taken refuge in a cave on Mount Horeb. Despite remaining true to God’s call to him to prophesy to the people of Israel about their waywardness, he is dispirited. He is told to stand on the mountain for the “Lord will be passing by.” Then comes the wind, an earthquake and fire, but the Lord is not found in any of those shows of natural power and strength. Instead, God speaks to Elijah in a whisper.

How often are we like Elijah in our relationship with God? A Scripture professor I had in seminary used to refer to the crowds who followed our Lord as “The Jesus Show.” All most of them wanted was the spectacle— the dramatic healings, the mass feedings and more. They couldn’t be bothered with listening to Jesus’ teachings or seeing up close and personal what he was doing in his interactions with people.

Today, in prayer, imagine the Lord asking you, “Why are you here?”, and then wait in silence for His voice to whisper to your heart, to reassure you, to guide you and to bring you His peace.

Father Tim S. Hickey is a priest of the Archdiocese of Hartford currently serving as a mission priest in the Diocese of Dodge City, Kansas. A native Kansan, he was schooled at Benedictine College, Marquette University and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. Prior to becoming a priest, Father Hickey was editor of Columbia magazine for the Knights of Columbus. He writes occasionally for Magnificat’s seasonal special issues and for Communion and Liberation.