In the first reading Elijah had just killed 450 of Baal’s prophets. These pagans were unable to have their god light up their holocaust on Mt. Carmel. After they failed, Elijah poured water all over his holocaust and when he invoked God, immediately everything burned. Jezebel went in hot pursuit of Elijah because she lost her political base by using these false prophets for profit. When Elijah finally arrives at a safe place, God shows himself to him in the same manner as Moses. God orders Elijah to anoint new kings who will annihilate each other and leave only 7,000 Israelites to reform a new people of God. He also instructs Elijah to appoint his successor, Elisha.
The cloak is a symbol of the person and the rights of its owner. The act of throwing the mantle over the shoulders of Elisha represents Elijah acquiring authority over Elisha and represents the divine call to share in the prophetic mission. Elisha’s prompt response of destroying his plow and killing oxen is an example of total obedience and renouncing his former way of living to now promote the glory of God.
Just as Elijah was completing his mission, so too is Jesus on his way to complete his mission – our salvation in Jerusalem. I am not clear as to why the Samaritans are not welcoming Jesus. It could be that he is heading not to their territory, but to where the “perfect” Jews live in Judea. King David managed to unite the ten tribes of the north (known at that time as Israel) with the two tribes in the south (known as Judea). When the twelve tribes of Israel split back to ten in the north to Samaria and two in remaining in the south, a lot of animosity developed between the two peoples. The Jews in the south had the Temple of Jerusalem to worship while the Jews in Samaria had to improvise with two separate places to worship God. This was looked upon as idolatry. The Holy Family would come down from Galilee and pass through Samaria to pray at the Temple each year.
Next week we will be having a mission appeal. Fr. Frank Grappoli of the St. Francis Xavier Foreign Mission Society will be addressing all of us on his society’s work in many countries around the world. The second collection will be for their benefit.