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Time to Decide – A Reflection on a Question from Elijah

June 13, 2018

At Mass for Wednesday of the 10th Week in Ordinary Time, we read a crucial question from Elijah. It came at a time of widespread apostasy among the Jewish people. Elijah summoned a multitude to Mt. Carmel in the far north of Israel:

Elijah appealed to all the people and said, “How long will you straddle the issue? If the Lord is God, follow him; if Baal, follow him.” The people, however, did not answer him (1 Kings 18:21).

The Baals were the gods of the Canaanites. It had become expedient and popular to worship them because the ruling political leaders, the apostate King Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel, had set forth the worship of the Baals by erecting altars and sacred columns. All who wished their life to go well and to have access to the levers of prosperity were surely “encouraged” to comply. Jezebel funded hundreds of prophets of Baal and the goddess Asherah. She had many of the prophets of Israel killed and forced others into hiding. Through a policy of favoritism and fear, the true faith was suppressed, and false ideologies were promoted.

At this critical moment, Elijah asked his question. In effect he told them that they needed to decide whether to serve the Lord God out of courageous fidelity or the Baals out of cowardly fear.

We, too, must decide. In our times, the true faith has been undermined in the hearts of many by plausible liars, cultural war, and political correctness. Those who strive to hold to the true faith are called hateful, bigoted, and intolerant. A legal framework is growing that seeks to force compliance to the moral revolution and abandonment of the biblical worldview. Social pressures are at work as well, seeking to compel compliance through political correctness, through suppression of speech and ideas, and through the influence of music, cinema, and art.

The same question must be asked of us: How long will you straddle the issue? If the Lord is God, follow him at any cost. If Baal is your god, follow him! If you prefer what is popular, politically correct, and safe, go for it; but understand that if you do so, your decision is increasingly for Baal, not the Lord. In a culture that insists you celebrate fornication, homosexual acts, transgenderism, abortion, euthanasia, and all sorts of intemperance, realize that your decision to comply amounts to a choice for Baal.

Some claim that they are not really making a fundamental choice against God and for the modern Baals. Rather, they prefer to think that they are being “tolerant,” that they are pleasant moderates seeking to “build bridges” and keep the faith “mainstream.”

The lines are starkly drawn. The choices required of us are clear. The ancient maxim has never been more true: tertium non datur (no third way is given). Jesus says, You cannot serve God and mammon (Mat 6:24). James adds, Adulterers! Do you not realize that a friendship with the world is enmity at God? (James 4:4) Elijah’s question cannot be watered down. There are two sides in the moral battle of our times: choose one.

The people of Elijah’s time did not want to answer. The text says that they just stood there silently. But a lack of response does not make the question or the choice go away. Prolonged silence to so fundamental a question becomes an answer in itself. Silence and fence-sitting are not valid answers when the lines are so clearly drawn.

Here is a warning to “fence-sitters” in the form of an old story:

A man once refused to take sides in the critical and disputed matters of his day, nobly declaring that he was tolerant of all views. Taking his seat on the fence he congratulated himself for his openness; others did too. One day the devil came and said to him, “Come along now, you’re with me.” The man protested, “I don’t belong to you. I’m on the fence!” The devil simply replied: “Oh, but you do belong to me. You see, I own the fence.”

“How long will you straddle the issue? If the Lord is God, follow him; if Baal, follow him.”

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Comments (8)

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  1. Friend says:

    While reading, it came to me; ‘where do you stand?’ and I was sent to Luke 6:46-49 where our Lord speaks of God’s Word as the Foundation, which, as St. Paul reminds is the only one that matters (1 Cor. 3:11). I like the way the St. Peter calls Jesus the “Living Stone” (1 Pet. 2:4). Much to meditate on. I notice the Spirit speaks of this also as the obstacle and stumbling block; of God’s Household, of gathering, of building up, of Jesus drawing all to Himself… but never of bridges since He is the Way. I humbly submit that the politicization of everything is a worldliness everyone should reject asap.

  2. Paul says:

    Jesus also had harsh words for the lukewarm

  3. David Farrar says:

    “The divine is implicit in every manifested being. You cannot be here, incarnated, and not be an aspect of God.*

    * Source: “Paul Selig channeling on the purpose of Religion” @https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdhgAgh00Jg

  4. Jacquie says:

    In these morally confused times, the name “Jezebel” has gained the perverse appeal of forbidden sexuality and moral degradation. It has even made an appearance on lists of names for baby girls. Heaven forbid! (This expression will soon be disappearing – religious connotations, you know).

    Should we say “Heaven forbid” or the now preferred “Perish the thought”? Should we choose Elijah or Jezebel? Let’s remember that she was defenestrated – out of her own window – and her corpse was eaten by stray dogs. Elijah, on the other hand, was lifted up to Heaven in a chariot of fire. As Monsignor Pope writes: “The choices required of us are clear.” Thank you, Father.

  5. alle says:

    “Silence and fence-sitting are not valid answers when the lines are so clearly drawn…”

    Do you think these “lukewarm fences” are built from the tree of the knowledge of good and bad
    from The Garden of Genesis? Seems to me that Adam & Eve teach every generation a very valuable lesson in regards
    to silence and fence sitting…

    Messiah continues the “fence busting” in the Book of Revelation:
    “You have lost the love you had at first, Realize how far you have fallen. Repent…”

    In the spirit of The Winans: “It’s Not Heaven, If You’re Not Here…”
    Thank you Msgr. Pope!

  6. Guy Potvin says:

    Not trying to rain on anybody’s parade. I think the church is sitting on the, with regards to what’s happening on our borders. Silence is assent

  7. Margaret Gurnett says:

    I never heard this song before. Such a poignant reminder to live like you really believe in Jesus – TODAY. Thank you for posting it.

  8. Al Closson says:

    I read just today that the Canadian Supreme Court in a 7-2 decision ruled that Trinity Western University must decide between keeping their Christian Based requirements for attending the university and keeping their accreditation. They cannot keep both.