The Flying Eagle PatrolWhen Brian Doyle was 13, he spent a “life term” — all right, 14 days — at a Boy Scout summer camp. Young Brian quickly established himself as the worst camper there. Tracking, swimming, canoeing, archery, woodcraft — the bespectacled Brian exhibited no talent or competence whatsoever. His happiest times were just sitting on a knoll among the trees watching for birds and wondering about lunch.
The only thing Kelli could offerKelli was a third-year medical student, on a rotation in oncology. This particular day she was not her usual enthusiastic, upbeat self. She was having doubts.
A woman, a divorcee, was explaining to her daughter why she never remarried.
“The men I know will bring too much heavy baggage to the marriage and I simply don’t want to put up with it.”
The first reading from the Book of the Apocalypse conveys its message through the medium of extraordinary visions and dreams. The description of a ‘woman clothed with the sun’ is imagery linked to a goddess in classical antiquity. Traditional commentaries identify her as Mary the new Eve, but she could also stand for Wisdom personified, the heavenly Jerusalem, or the Church. She also stands for Israel, whose pangs of birth represent the trials to be endured before the coming of the Messiah. The dragon, God’s traditional opponent in the Hebrew Scriptures, is an ancient symbol of chaos and all the forces of evil opposed to God.
In the first reading we meet Elijah the prophet hiding in a cave as he tries to distance himself from Queen Jezabel who is out to get him because he has humiliated and killed her prophets. Now on the run for his life, he is directed to Mount Horeb where he takes refuge in a cave. He wants to meet God and wishes this God to act powerfully against his enemies. There he discovers that his tactics are not God’s tactics. God’s approach is a non-violent one, symbolized by the mighty wind and earthquake in which he does not find God. Rather it is a gentle one, symbolized by the gentle breeze. Our God is so different from what we expect!