Elijah, the prophet of fire
“As the Lord lives, before whom I stand! »
(1K 17: 1)
In this cry, it is the entire soul of the great prophet Elijah that is expressed. It was on his steps, “near the spring [of Elijah] at Mount Carmel,” that the hermits who were to become the first Carmelites lived, “meditating day and night on the law of the Lord” (Primitive Rule): this is the heart of our Rule, the heart of our life.
“We descend from this race of religious saints of Mount Carmel, who only plunged into such deep solitude […] in search of this treasure [which is contemplation]” (5th Mansion 1, 2) . The cry of Elijah, which we make our own, urges us to continually return to the presence of God, as the prophets did in the desert and the hermits of Mount Carmel, “hidden in the torrent of Cherith” (1Ki 17, 2) or “ in the hollow of the rock” (1K19, 9), the place of heart to heart with God.
Like Elijah, we are told “Go out and stand on the mountain” (1Ki 19:11), come out of your negative thoughts, your discouragement, your bitterness, come out of yourself, “and behold the Lord passes” “in the breeze of a fine silence”.
In the silence and solitude of the desert, the ardor of God’s fire burns those who surrender to his presence. “What are you doing, Elijah? » said the angel of the Lord to him. “I am consumed by zeal for the Lord Sabaoth” (1K19, 9-10): the prophet’s confession has become the motto of Carmel. We are called to become apostles with all-consuming zeal.
The first mission of the prophet also becomes our mission: to receive for all the mercy of the Lord intended for the multitude and to transmit it. Like Elijah who, in the cave of Horeb, groaned under the weight of Israel’s sin, called to discover the needs of the souls of our time, to make them our own, we want to take upon ourselves with Jesus the sins of our time, carrying the suffering, the darkness, the anguish, the unconscious desires, we want to be hungry and thirsty for everyone.
If the figure of Elijah is seen as the inspiration for the entire Order of Carmel, he has a very special place in our federation. In Haifa his presence is undeniably rooted in the very places where he fulfilled his mission – and both local Christians and Jews and Muslims remember him and do not lack devotion to these places – the other Carmels of the Holy Land could just as well claim to be authentic places of the passage of Elijah, he who wandered through Palestine. Perhaps he did not push as far as Aleppo, nor as far as Egypt or Morocco, however the presence of Elijah is no less strong there. This great prophet is alive among all the believers of our countries!