In the last few days we have been reading in Sirach of the story of the great prophet Elijah and his young apprentice, Elisha. The prophet chooses Elisha to succeed him as the spokesperson of God and the conscience of God's People. Elijah tells Elisha to ask for whatever he needs or wants ... and the answer was "...a double portion of your spirit." Elijah assures him that if he witnesses Elijah being taken up into heaven, which he does, then it will be granted to him. He picked up Elijah's mantle and the son, the apprentice, the student became the prophet of the Lord.
And today the praise of the great prophet is sung by the people that respected him and loved him. They lament his absence. No one could take his place. Then Elisha steps forward and here is what the Scriptures say next: "Then Elisha, filled with the twofold portion of his spirit, wrought many marvels by his mere word. During his lifetime he feared no one, nor was any man able to intimidate his will. Nothing was beyond his power; beneath him flesh was brought back to life. In life he performed wonders, and after death, marvelous deeds."
The Lord, the great Divine teacher, the Anointed One and Son of God, also realized that he must return to the Father and take his rightful place before all creation. He has chosen those who will take up his mantle and continue to do his work at building up an eternal Kingdom of life and love. He prays for them to the Father, and promises that when they see him lifted up they will receive his Spirit and be entrusted with continuing his work. In John 14:12 he says that "...one who believes in me will do the works that I do, and even greater than these, because I go to the Father." The twelve, Mary and the others in the Upper Room on that Pentecost, the countless others who heard and believed in him, have received his Spirit and a double portion of his grace to do greater things than even he did. Think on that a moment - greater things than even Jesus did? And then remember what was said of the prophet Elisha - he wrought many marvels merely by his word ... he feared no one ... he was not intimidated ... nothing was beyond his power ... he performed wonders and marvelous deeds. And think of ourselves as Church, having received a double portion of the Spirit of, not just a prophet, but of the Christ. Look at and remember those who have embraced his glory and are shining witnesses over the centuries. And look at ourselves now - all too often afraid or timid or uncertain or shy and much too inconsequential in the world in which we live. We must embrace the gift of God's Holy Spirit and live a life worth living.