Get off the Fence: Worshipping in Spirit and in Truth

Homily for Monday of the Fifteenth Week in OT (Year II)
Monday, July 16, 2018 – Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Northern Pines Bible Camp – Park Rapids, MN
John Paul II Camp – Day 2


Today is the Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Carmel is a mountain in Israel.

Elijah and the Prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18)

  • This story takes place on Mount Carmel
  • Israelites are two-faced. Duplicity.
  • They say they worship God, but they also worship Baal. Baal: storm God.
  • Their duplicity, their two-facedness, made their worship worthless.
  • Elijah’s challenge to them: How long will you straddle the issue by advocating 2 different opinions?”
  • Baal is the storm god and he can’t make fire fall from Heaven.
  • The Lord God makes the fire fall from heaven to consume the sacrifice.

Today’s Feast: Our Lady of Mount Carmel

  • Hermits went to Mount Carmel (where Elijah had the showdown with the prophets of Baal). They settled there to pursue God in lives totally devoted to prayer. 1100’s. They dedicated themselves to prayer and penance…to working on their interior life. Became known as the “Carmelites”
  • 1251 – St. Simon Stock and the Brown Scapular. Mary appeared to him. Vision of the scapular. Those who entrust themselves to her would have her protection and intercession. A reminder that the spiritual life comes first.
  • Scapular is an exterior sign of interior trust. It’s not effective if it’s looked upon with superstition. Clothe your heart with the Spirit of the Scapular if you are going to place the cloth scapular around your neck. Monks (hermits) – wear scapulars.
  • Mary – model of authenticity. Opposite of the Israelites in the story of Elijah and the Prophets of Baal. Her “yes” meant “yes”. Be it done unto me according to thy word. She is a model of trust. She is a model of faithfulness. Her words match her actions.
    • How could she do this?
    • She pondered these things in her heart. She had an interior life. She was a woman of prayer. Like the Carmelites, she devoted time to contemplation, to her interior life, to prayer.

What about us?

Today’s readings issue a big challenge to us. It is this: If you are going to call yourself a Christian, if you are going to call yourself a disciple, then you have to live it.

You can’t worship God in song and then live lives of sin.  Your worship must match your works.

Your heart is revealed in your actions.

We hear in the first reading: I will not listen! Your hands are full of blood! Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil. Learn to do good.

In other words, if you are going to offer me true worship, then your worship must match your works. Your words must match your actions.

Elijah’s challenge to the prophets of Baal comes to us today.  How long will you straddle the issue by living a double life?!  Is the Lord Jesus your god? Or is your sin your god?  Choose.  Get off the fence. The devil owns the fence. Choose.

Jesus: Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.

It’s a struggle, but the struggle is important. Make a decision.

The grace in all of this, and what today’s feast reminds us, is this: We don’t walk alone.

Saint John Paul II said this: Walking with our Blessed Mother, the model of complete faithfulness to the Lord, we will fear no obstacles or difficulties. Supported by her intercession, like Elijah we will be able to fulfill our call to be authentic prophets in our time…May Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom we call upon today with special devotion, help us tirelessly climb to the summit of the mountain of holiness. May she help us to love nothing more than Jesus.

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