21 July 2006

Of Elijah And Iron.

James Kushiner offers a serendipitous reflection on Elijah:

...Elijah's assumption into heaven in a fiery chariot, writes Nes in her book of icons, "may be understood as a prefiguration of Christ's ascension." And the story of Elijah itself is bracketed in fire, with the fire from the Lord descending on Mount Carmel and the fire of the chariot ascending with Elijah into heaven. The fire itself is often associated with transforming power of God, even with His very being: "Our God is a consuming fire."

However, unlike the devouring devil who consumes man, the consuming fire of God is positive, even as it burns away all sin and dross. Nes writes:

"St. John of Damascus compares the saints with red-hot iron. Iron that is made red-hot by fire is still iron, but unlike iron that has become cold, it can be moulded. The saints do not lose their identities as individuals by striving to become one with God."

For the saint, it is choice to say yes to the Lord, and a resounding no to the other gods that entice us away from our true identities in God. It's one of the lessons of Elijah, man of God and prophet in whose steps walked John the Baptist, who also preached of fire even as he prepared the way for Christ, the One who baptizes with fire and spoke of casting fire upon the earth...



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