2 Kings 2:1,6-14
Matthew 6:1-6,16-18


In our lives, there are moments of transition and growth where we cross over from one stage of life to another. In Israel’s story, Moses led the people through the waters that led from slavery to freedom. After forty years of wandering in the desert Joshua led the people across the waters of the Jordan into the land of promise. In today’s reading, both Elijah and Elisha cross the waters of the Jordan. Elijah’s transition is relinquishing his prophetic ministry and being taken up into the presence of God. It’s a moment of both letting go and receiving. For Elisha the transition was twofold: letting his master go, receiving a new mission taking up Elijah’s mantle.

In the Gospel for today the disciples are also called to pass over from old ways of being to the new world that Jesus invites them to embrace. At the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount the disciples received the mission to live according to the beatitudes and so be salt for the earth and light for the world by the example of their lives. The unexpected challenge they received was that their almsgiving, prayer, and fasting were now practised secretly. What a shock that would have been in a world of honour and shame where a person was esteemed because of their good example. Jesus expects disciples to give alms, pray, and fast without drawing any attention to themselves.  That’s a transition that is the work of a lifetime.

Fr. Chris Monaghan CP, lectures in the New Testament and is President of Yarra Theological Union. He is a member of the Passionist community of Holy Cross in Templestowe.