Fortunately, we’re not left to ourselves. In Romans 8, Saint Paul writes that when the Holy Spirit comes upon us, we will know how to pray, as we ought, according to the heart of God. The Holy Spirit begins to pray in us, but we have to keep working and be diligent at it. Eventually, the Holy Spirit will honor your efforts, and He will begin to anoint your weakness with strength. The Holy Spirit allows you to see that in and of yourself, you don’t have the strength to accomplish great things. But He says, ‘I have. I can enable you to accomplish great things.’ God teaches us how to be humble and be dependent totally on Him
How many times have you prayed that your children, your parents, or loved ones return to the Church? And you look out into the sea, to see if there is any difference in them, but there is nothing at all. Maybe they’re just as indifferent to matters of the faith, as they were before. Elijah’s example has a great deal to teach us.
In the beginning, when Elijah prayed, there were no results, but he didn’t stop. Scripture says that he kept praying seven times. Seven is a biblical symbol of perfection. He persevered in prayer, until the appointed time for him to be blessed, the time that God had ordained to begin to manifest Himself.
Elijah had to first exercise his will and put the effort and responsibility that was expected of him. When he had done his part, then God began to take over, and to fulfill the hopes of what He Himself had begun to inspire. Seven times, Elijah prayed. Scripture expresses our need to persevere in prayer. The book of Hebrews says that we need patience to do God’s will, and to see, fulfilled in us, what God promises to do. Even though Elijah did not see anything, God was listening and preparing.
What was the first sign of hope? Elijah’s servant says, ‘Now there is a cloud, and it is as small as a man’s hand rising from the sea.’ That was the first sign. Something was happening. Elijah knew that it would be so, and that is why he persevered, but now, God was acting.
For the first time in the natural world, Elijah sees the sign of God acting. An assignment is coming to pass. The blessings are now at hand. The season has come.
Notice the size of the sign. ‘A small hand’ in comparison to the broad sea. A cloud the size of a person’s hand arising from the sea is practically a mist. It seems so insignificant. Sometimes, the signs of God’s presence, in comparison to the problem, might not seem to be a reason for hope.
Notice Elijah’s response to this seemingly insignificant sign. Though the sign would not have meant anything to anyone else, Elias knew what God was saying through this sign. He knew exactly what it meant. He was convinced that it was God’s way of saying, ‘I am with you. Do not give up, and you will see great things.’
He saw what God promised coming to pass, and he acted on it, with full confidence, that God would not leave His work undone. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us. (to be continued)
(SOURCE: Feast of OLMC 2013, Saint Therése Church, Alhambra, CA)
Copyright Fr. Robert Barcelos, OCD, 2016. All Rights Reserved.
Click the image below for the Novena prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, followed by: Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.