Our rather incomplete coverage at weekday Mass of the cycle of stories about the prophet Elijah concludes today (2 Kings 2) with the account of his assumption into heaven on a chariot – he passes on his cloak and his mission to his disciple Elisha. Interestingly here he is surrounded by a ‘brotherhood of prophets’, whereas earlier on he’s clearly isolated because Ahab has killed the others; so by the end of his life on earth he has achieved a religious revival.
Although a prophet’s ministry in the Old Testament is often portrayed as a lonely existence, we only know about these people because they had followers who wrote down what they did and taught.
Our extract today from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew (6:1-18) is also the gospel reading for Ash Wednesday. While the Lord’s disciples are expected to lead lives which are virtuous and different from those of other people, we have to be careful not to parade what we do. I think the danger of this is even greater than usual during a crisis like the present pandemic. The circumstances in which many of us are living tend not really to change us, but to accentuate both our good and bad points: so if we’re conscious (because we might have more time to think about ourselves) of the little good that we can do, then it will, if we’re not careful, grow in our minds and we’ll become proud and full of ourselves. Doing good quietly, as Jesus tells us today, is one way to avoid that.
God bless and take care