Daily Devotional for November 10-16
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the [b]wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of [c]the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Prayer: O Gentle Light of the holy glory of the immortal, heavenly, holy, blessed Father, O Jesus Christ: Having come to the setting of the sun, having beheld the evening light, we praise the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: God. Meet it is for Thee at all times to be hymned with reverent voices, O Son of God, Giver of life. Wherefore, the world doth glorify Thee.
*Eastern Vesper Hymn
*Practical Commentary this week
[3 Kings 18]
AFTER the earth had remained three years and six months without rain or dew, the Lord spoke to Elias: “Go and show thyself to Achab that I may give rain upon the face of the earth.” The prophet obeyed. When Achab saw him, he said: “Art thou he that troublest Israel?” The prophet answered: “I have not troubled Israel, but thou and thy father’s house, who have forsaken the Commandments of the Lord and followed Baalim. Nevertheless send now and gather unto me all Israel unto Mount Carmel (Fig. 49), and the prophets of Baal, four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves, four hundred.”
Achab obeyed, being afraid to do otherwise, on account of the famine that was everywhere, and he went himself to the mountain. Then Elias spoke to the people of Israel saying: “How long do you halt between two sides? If the Lord be God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him.”
The people, feeling the justice of his reproach, made no answer. They were ashamed and afraid. Elias then added: “I only remain a prophet of the Lord, but the prophets of Baal are four hundred and fifty men. Let two bullocks be given us; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, but put no fire under; and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under it. Call ye on the names of your gods, and I will call on the name of my Lord; and the God that shall answer by fire, let him be the God.” All the people answered: “A very good proposal”.
Then the priests of Baal, clad in their richest garments and crowned with laurel, took an ox and slew him. They erected an altar, placed the dead ox upon it, and danced around it crying out: “Baal, hear us.” This they did from morning until noon, but no fire came to consume their sacrifice. Then Elias, mocking them, called out: “Cry with a louder voice: for he is a god, and perhaps he is talking with some one, or on a journey, or he is asleep and must be awaked.”
Then they began to cry louder than ever, hacking their bodies with knives, as they were accustomed to do, until they were covered with blood. This they kept up till evening, but all in vain. Then Elias told the people to come to him. And he erected an altar to the Lord; took twelve stones and laid the wood in order upon them, then placed the ox which had been cut in pieces on the wood.
Prayer: Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Cont from Monday
He [Elijah] then poured water upon the victim till it ran down on every side and filled the trench around the altar. This being done, he said: “O Lord God, show this day that Thou art the God of Israel, and I Thy servant, and that according to Thy commandment I have done all these things. Hear me, O Lord, hear me; that this Thy people may learn that Thou art the Lord God, and that Thou hast turned their hearts again.”
That instant fire came down from heaven and consumed the holocaust, the wood, the stones and the water in the trench. The people, having witnessed this prodigy, fell on their faces, exclaiming: “The Lord He is God! The Lord He is God!” And the prophet, retiring from the multitude, went up alone to the top of the mountain where he prostrated himself before the Lord in praise and thanksgiving.
Then he besought the Lord to refresh the earth with water. And behold, a little cloud arose from the sea, no bigger than the foot of a man, and it spread itself gradually over the heavens, and rain fell in abundance.
Application: A. The power of prayer. It was at the prayer of Elias that God worked the wonderful miracle which has been described. For this reason St. James cites the prayer of Elias as an example of efficacious prayer. He says (5:16, 18): “The continual prayer of a just man availeth much. Elias was a man passible like unto us: and with prayer he prayed that it might not rain upon the earth, and it rained not for three years and six months. And he prayed again: and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”
B. Half-heartedness and indecision. The reproach made by Elias to the people for their wavering and indecision applies equally to many Christians who hesitate between virtue and vice, the spirit of Christ and the spirit of the world, the service of God and the service of the devil, although in holy Baptism they renounced Satan and all his works, and promised to be faithful to God. Our Lord warns us thus: “No man can serve two masters (who give opposite commands); for either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon”, i. e. the riches &c. of this world
Prayer: Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world: have mercy upon us. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world: have mercy upon us. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, grant us peace.
[3 Kings 21–22. 4 Kings 9]
ACHAB had a palace at Jezrahel, and near it was a vineyard owned by a man named Naboth. Achab, coveting the vineyard, said one day to Naboth: “Give me thy vineyard, that I may make me a garden, and I will give thee a better vineyard, or I will give thee the worth of it in money.” Naboth answered him: “The Lord be merciful to me and not let me give thee the inheritance of my fathers.” For the law of Moses forbade the son to sell the property which he had inherited from his forefathers.
The king was so troubled because he could not have the vineyard, that he could neither eat nor sleep. Jezabel, his queen, perceiving this, inquired the cause of his sadness and fretting. The king having explained the cause, Jezabel mockingly said: “Thou art of great authority indeed and governest well the kingdom of Israel! Arise and eat bread and be of good cheer: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezrahelite.”
She then wrote letters in the king’s name to the chief men of the city, whom she knew to be wicked like herself, requesting them to find some men who would wrongfully accuse Naboth. These men were easily found, and they bore false witness against Naboth, saying that he had blasphemed God and the king. And on their testimony Naboth was condemned, taken out of the city and stoned to death.
Jezabel being informed of Naboth’s death, went and told her husband that he might now take the vineyard, as Naboth was dead. And Achab took the vineyard. Then the Lord commanded Elias to go to Achab, to reproach him with his crime and to tell him that the dogs would lick up his own blood on the very spot on which Naboth was slain, and that the queen would be devoured by dogs in the same field. This prediction was literally fulfilled.
Three years after, Achab was mortally wounded in a battle with the Syrians; and when the chariot in which he received the fatal wound was being washed after his death, the dogs came and licked up his blood.
Some time after, when Jehu was king, he went to Jezrahel. And when Jezabel heard of his coming, she dressed herself in her richest apparel. She painted her face and adorned her head and stood at the window of her palace. Jehu, seeing her at the window, ordered her servants to cast her down. They did so, and the walls were sprinkled with her blood, and the hoofs of the horses trod upon her, and the dogs came and ate her flesh, so that only her skull, feet and hands remained for burial.
Prayer: O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance. Grant victory over their enemies to Orthodox Christians, and protect Thy people with Thy Cross.
[3 Kings 19. 4 Kings 1–12]
AT one time Elias, being persecuted by Jezabel, fled into the desert. He was very sad and desired to die, for he thought all the Israelites had fallen into idolatry. Being fatigued, he cast himself down and slept in the shadow of a juniper-tree; and behold, an angel of the Lord touched him and said: “Arise, eat; for thou hast yet a great way to go.” Elias looked and saw at his head a hearth-cake and a vessel of water. He arose, ate and drank, and walked in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights, until he came to the mount of God, Horeb.
Then the Lord appeared to him amidst the breezes of a gentle wind, consoled him and said: “Return and anoint Eliseus to be prophet in thy room, and I will leave Me seven thousand men whose knees have not bowed before Baal.” Elias departed and found Eliseus ploughing with oxen. He cast his mantle upon him, and Eliseus forthwith left the oxen and the plough, followed Elias and ministered to him.
But the time came when the Lord wished to take Elias from the earth. The Spirit of God led him to the Jordan, and Eliseus accompanied him. Elias took his mantle, folded it together and struck the waters; the waters divided, and both passed over on dry ground. As they walked on, there appeared a fiery chariot with horses. Elias was taken up alive to heaven. Eliseus saw him and cried: “My father! my father! The chariot of Israel and the driver thereof!” When he saw Elias no longer, he rent his garments in grief; then taking the mantle which Elias had dropped, he went back and struck with it the waters of the Jordan. They were divided, and Eliseus passed over. The other disciples of Elias seeing this said: “The spirit of Elias hath rested upon Eliseus.” And coming to meet him, they worshipped him, falling to the ground.
After Elias had been taken up into heaven, Eliseus arose and exhorted the Israelites to remain faithful to the Lord. God also favoured him with the gift of miracles. When he came to Jericho, the men of the city said to him: “The situation of this city is very good, but the waters are very bad.” Eliseus answered: “Bring me a new vessel and put salt into it.” When they had brought it, he went out to the spring (Fig. 50, p. 280), cast the salt into it, and the waters were healed.
One day when Eliseus was going up to Bethel, where the golden calf was worshipped, some boys came out of the city and mocked him, saying: “Go up, thou bald head.” Eliseus, knowing that in dishonouring him they dishonoured God, turned back and cursed them in the name of the Lord. Immediately two bears came out of the wood that was near by, and killed forty-two of the boys.
Some time after Eliseus cured of leprosy, in a miraculous manner, Naaman, general of the Syrian army, a rich and valiant man. The wife of Naaman had in her service a young Israelite girl who had been carried off into Syria by robbers. This maiden then said one day to her mistress: “I wish my master had been with the prophet that is in Samaria. He would certainly have healed him of the leprosy.” When Naaman heard this he set out for Samaria with horses and chariots.
Prayer: O my God relying on Thy infinite goodness and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Thy grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.
*Act of Hope
Cont. from Thursday…
When Naaman reached the prophet’s dwelling he sent a messenger to let him know of his coming, and why he had come. Eliseus sent him word by his servant Giezi to bathe seven times in the Jordan, and he would be healed. Naaman was angry and went away, saying: “I thought he would have come out to me and standing would have invoked the name of the Lord his God, and touched with his hand the place of the leprosy and healed me. Are not the rivers of Damascus better than all the waters of Israel?”
As he was thus turning angrily away, his servants said to him: “Father, if the prophet had bidden thee to do some great thing, surely thou wouldst have done it; how much more what he now hath said to thee: ‘Wash, and thou shalt be clean’.” And Naaman, seeing that what they said was just, alighted from his chariot, bathed seven times in the Jordan and was made clean. He returned to the man of God and told him that now he knew for certain that there was no God but the God of Israel; and he offered him presents, but Eliseus refused to receive anything.
Hardly had Naaman gone a little way when Giezi, the servant of Eliseus, went after him and said: “My master hath sent me to thee saying: ‘Just now there are come to me from Mount Ephraim two young men, sons of the prophets; give them a talent of silver and two changes of garments’.”
Naaman gladly gave him two talents of silver and two changes of garments. Giezi returned with the presents, and having hidden them, he stood before Eliseus. The prophet asked him where he had been, and Giezi answered that he had been nowhere.
Eliseus being angry said: “Was not my heart present when the man turned back from his chariot? Now thou hast money to buy oliveyards and vineyards and sheep and oxen and men-servants and maid-servants; but the leprosy of Naaman shall stick to thee for ever.” And Giezi went out a leper, as white as snow. Eliseus wrought other great miracles.
One great miracle the prophet wrought even after his death. It happened in this manner: On one occasion a number of men were carrying a corpse to the cemetery for burial. As they were making the grave, behold, robbers from Moab rushed in upon them. They in their fright cast the corpse into the sepulchre of Eliseus. No sooner had the dead man touched the bones of the prophet than he was instantly restored to life and came forth from the tomb.
Prayer: O my God I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all-good and worthy of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.
*Act of Contrition
The Goodness of God towards His holy and zealous servant Elias was very great. He revived and strengthened him with a miraculous food, appeared to him most lovingly so as to comfort him, and finally took him from earth in a glorious manner, without letting him taste of the bitterness and humiliation of death.
The Omnipotence of God was shown by the supernatural power of the bread, in the strength of which Elias fasted forty days; and also by the twice-repeated division of the waters of the Jordan. It was God’s omnipotence which purified the well at Jericho by a means which, in the natural order of things, would have made the briny water more unpalatable than it was before. He cured the leprosy of Naaman and raised the dead man to life by contact with the bones of Eliseus.
After Moses Elias was the greatest of the prophets. Firstly, he was great by his virtues. He led a severe life of penance, not loving the world, but loving only solitude, prayer and the contemplation of divine things. He was devoured by a holy zeal for God’s glory and the salvation of his people. He was intrepid, patient and strong under suffering and persecution, and was possessed of the most unshaken confidence in God. Secondly, he was great by his divine calling and his influence on the world. He preserved the true faith in Israel, he worked wonderful miracles, such as raising the dead, and was translated from earth in a marvellous manner. He is therefore venerated as a great Saint by both Christians and Jews.
The relics of Saints: the cloak which Elias left behind him when he was translated was a relic of the holy prophet. By means of this relic and for the sake of the prayers and merits of Elias God worked great miracles. By means of the relics (i. e. the bones) of Eliseus also a great miracle was wrought. If therefore God glorifies the relics of his Saints by working miracles through them, it is certainly reasonable and pleasing to God that we should value and honour them; and the Church teaches that we ought to venerate them. She places them under the altars on which the holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered, and exposes them for our veneration.
Prayer: O my God I love Thee above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because Thou art all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of Thee. I forgive all who have injured me, and ask pardon of all whom I have injured. (Act of Charity)