The Elijah and Elisha story are hyperbolic in that the slaughter of the 12 oxen seems unnecessary; it would have produced close to 8,000 pounds of meat to eat or four tons! In the day before refrigeration this meant eating it within days, or corning, smoking, or jerking it, which itself are all labor intensive. So it seems like the story has a bit of hype. The twelve clearly refers to Israel’s twelve tribes, the nostalgic form of government in Elijah’s time of wicked kings and queens, eg. Ahaz and Jezebel!

Israel becomes a sacrifice for the Lord, an offering of the whole self, none left for the royal consciousness (cf. Brueggemann) but only for the prophetic work of ensuring the divine and holy presence of the Lord among the people. At this point, Elisha offers himself to Elijah to be trained in the school of the prophets. Psalm 16 this weekend is a fine followup to this motif.

Which leads me to the question: are we being schooled in the Gospels? are we willing to turn aside from our own “plowing of the field” to the Lord’s work? Where does God rank in the activities of my life?

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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