Fr Denny Dempsey has a brilliant reflection on this Sunday’s first reading from the second book of Kings, in which Elijah appoints Elisha, at God’s bidding, to replace him as God’s prophet or mouth-piece. This is what he writes:
Elijah (meaning “my God is Yahweh”) is called to anoint Elisha (meaning “God is my salvation”) as his successor. Elisha came from a wealth family (only a wealthy family could afford twelve yoke of oxen) in Abel Meholah east of the Jordan river. He was the chief prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel from around 850 to 790 B.C. The camel hair cloak which Elijah places over Elisha was symbolic of his being a prophet in somewhat the same way as a person today wearing a black shirt with a small white square in the collar is identified as clergy. Several centuries later, John the Baptist would wear a cloak similar to that of Elijah and Elisha, identifying him as a prophet of God.
Elisha’s sacrificing oxen to God was a sign of his acceptance and commitment to his new calling. He would henceforth be a disciple to Elijah learning how to be a prophet, a mouthpiece for God.
In his famous poem “The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost wrote : “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and sorry I could not travel both. I looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth.” Elisha looked down the furrows of the extensive farm he was to inherit and chose another life based on faith in God…and that, as Robert Frost would say, “made all the difference.” What have been roads you have taken in life which meant other possible options would forever be impossible? Choosing a college, marriage partner, job, and residence are among the key choices that define a person’s life path. What did you turn down in making your choices in life?