Elisha’s initiation into the prophetic way of life sends a powerful message about the first criteria for bearing credible witness. When Elisha asks Elijah if he can return to bid farewell to his kin, Elijah gives the cryptic response, “Go, return, for what have I done to you?” On the one hand, Elijah seems to say that Elisha is free to do as he pleases – on the other hand Elijah seems to caution him to consider what it means to be placed under the prophet’s mantle. It’s as though Elijah is saying, “Why do you look to me, a mere man, to instruct you according to the yoke that now we both bear? We are driven by another! Of myself, I have done nothing to you – it is Yahweh Himself who has placed a grave responsibility on your shoulders. If you would return to your family I would not stop you, for surely you would not return to them unless Yahweh Himself sends you.” Elisha’s farewell to his parents is prophetic indeed. He sacrifices both his wealth and his means to procure it in one act as his oxen become nourishment for the people. The renouncement and detachment of the prophet bring true nourishment to the people by exposing the Word of God to their minds and hearts.
Today we celebrate venerable Bede, one of our most prolific ancient commentators of Sacred Scripture. His reflections have inspired Christians for centuries.
Christ certainly does not leave any ambiguous points about divorce. The tradition of the Catholic church also does not give any indication that divorce is an acceptable solution to a sour marriage. Marriage has been weakened in modern times because of the general lack of spiritual formation – people don’t have a very deep sense of the meaning of human existence. Many people have found themselves caught in a situation where the decisions they have made in a state of immaturity or imprudence have set their lives on a course they would like to somehow alter for the sake of the possibility of happiness. In general, we have lost faith in the fact that happiness is not for this life but for eternal life. The idea that marriage is what is supposed to finally make us happy feeds the illusion and expectation that there is some way of life here on earth that we should not gladly trade for eternal life. There are many goods that a marriage between virtuous people affords, and great experiences of mercy and forgiveness between Christian spouses – the human experience of marriage is only for this earth however, there is no marriage in heaven.