Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Elijah and the Double Portion

“When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, he and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. . . Elijah said to Elisha, "Please stay here; the LORD has sent me on to the Jordan." "As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live," Elisha replied, "I will not leave you." And so the two went on together. Fifty of the guild prophets followed, and when the two stopped at the Jordan, stood facing them at a distance. Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up and struck the water, which divided, and both crossed over on dry ground.When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, "Ask for whatever I may do for you, before I am taken from you." Elisha answered, "May I receive a double portion of your spirit." (2 Kings, 2)
What is this double portion Elisha asked for from this holy prophet? Some say the the ‘double spirit’ of Elijah is prayer and mortification. These certainly are the cardinal virtues of a Carmelite. Others say it is prayer and preaching. After all what is a prophet without words? Many say it is the spirit of zeal -
 "Zelo zelatus sum pro Domino Deo exercituum" (I am on fire with zeal for the Lord God of hosts [I Kg 19:10]) - a reflection of his passion.
In the New Testament recall that John the Baptist was to come in the spirit of Elijah. Obviously, this means that Elijah had received the Holy Spirit in an exceptionally strong manner. Elijah is for Carmelites a special Father whom God had given the Holy Spirit with particular strength. This prophet possessed the spirit of unique holiness and left a double portion of it to Elisha. 
A double share of his spirit, that is -the Holy Spirit- twice as much
The Holy Spirit brings with Him gifts- precious, beautiful gifts. Chief among these gifts stands the Gift of Wisdom. Elijah had this gift and he was a great contemplative for it is by this gift that one contemplates. Whenever Elijah’s contact with the world exhausted him or whenever he was persecuted, he would flee to the mountain, into solitude, in order to enter into contact with God.  Then by contemplation he would be renewed in strength. - This is a great lesson for all Carmelites.

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