Isaiah 10:5-7, 13b-16
Today the Catholic calendar observes the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, patroness of the Carmelite religious order.
Mt. Carmel, a coastal mountain in northern Israel, is one of the most revered holy sites of the Bible. There the great prophet Elijah contested with the priests of pagan gods to whom Israel had given its allegiance. (1 Kings 18 – 19). Elijah’s great victory demonstrated that Yahweh alone was God and called Israel to repentance and renewed faith.
His legendary deed inspired the foundation of the Carmelite Order, on Mt. Carmel itself, in the 12th Century. Several great Carmelite saints are familiar to us today: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Therese of Lisieux. As pillars of contemporary spirituality, each is a flesh-and-blood hero of faith. Their lives echo the dynamism of commitment to God seen in Elijah’s mountaintop showdown.
Today’s Scripture readings reverberate with the power of faith. In Isaiah 26: 8 we read, "Your name and your title, O Lord, are the desire of our souls." Faith touches the deepest, inmost recesses of the human spirit and psyche. Faith claims and shapes us as nothing else can. In Matthew’s Gospel (Mt.11:28) Jesus tells us, "My yoke is easy and my burden light." The choice for faith, even when challenging, brings joy and vitality to our lives.
Today’s Feast leads us back to the life of Mary, Mother of Jesus. May we live by her personal profession of faith, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me as you will." (Luke 1:38) Let us follow her suggestion made at Cana‘s wedding feast, "Do whatever He tells you." (John 2:5) May this day see our faith grow to embrace the challenges we face.
Fr. Jim Thoman, CP, is the director of St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat Center, Detroit, Michigan