This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on June 5, 2016.
There is an interesting phenomenon that runs consistently throughout the events of human history. When an individual takes a bold stand for what is good and right in the face of a culture filled with what is bad and wrong, all those who had chosen not to take a stand label that individual a hero. Whether it is St. Catherine of Siena in 14th Century Italy nursing those whom others were afraid to touch or Martin Luther in 16th Century Germany calling for integrity and truth in the Church or Rosa Parks in 20th Century America sitting still and exposing injustice, heroes live among us. Even those without courage recognize it when they see it and honor those who use it. Like a diamond against black velvet, the contrast is simply too glaring to deny. That was precisely the scene that had been set when the Prophet Elijah burst suddenly onto the stage of Israel’s tumultuous history.
For 42 years King Asa reigned in the southern kingdom of Judah in a manner that delighted the heart of God. During those same 42 years the northern kingdom of Israel went through six kings with reigns that lasted anywhere from seven days to twenty-two years…with all six reigns characterized by evil, blasphemy, and degradation. When Elijah appeared in 1 Kings 17, Israel was ruled by King Ahab who “did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him” (16:30) and who ultimately married a heathen named Jezebel, daughter of the king of Sidon—King Ethbaal (“with Baal”). Ahab joined his new bride in her idolatrous worship of Baal.