Prophet Elijah is just about to give up all hope in the God of the Covenant. In his region, all deserted to other gods. Only he was left: ‘I only, am left; and they seek my life.’
Then, God gives a demonstration where to find Him. ‘And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind.’ Neither was he in the earthquake or in the fire. Instead, God appeared to Elijah in ‘a small voice’.
From this ‘small voice’, which is quieter when the leaves of a tree just start moving in the breeze, Elijah learns to have hope in God again. It turns out that he is not alone at all: ‘Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.’
This is an important message for us, Christians of today. When local churches struggle with numbers, and feel their sacred prayers being disconnected from the life of our world - this image of God’s intimate consolation emerges. God’s goodness has never completely withdrawn from people’s life. There is an unbroken potential in our contemporaries not to ‘bend their knees’ in front of the false gods of the age.
The message of the Eucharist by which we live daily is the confirmation of our individual hope. The icon of Loving tenderness, which now stands in Saint Augustine’s (the Romanian Orthodox Church will try to build a missional community, and will use our liturgical space for their Sunday worship) speaks about this positive hope – in ‘small voice’. We see Our Lady and the child-Logos Jesus in a loving intimate embrace. What a powerful statement of that hope, which Elijah does not have at the moment of crisis. Mary clings to the growing divine Life, that of the Child, in his arms. The world might be in disarray…Yet the trusting embrace between Mother and Child connects us with ‘the seven thousand in Israel’, with the ‘seven thousand in the Kingdom of God’. In salvation history, we are never alone, we have never been abandoned by God. Actually, we will start seeing the world around us as Mary and Jesus saw it: in tenderness, full of potential divine life and human flourishing. Seeing the Kingdom where it is not obviously present for the limited human eye – that is the art of God. To this ‘art of hope’ we are called. Let us collect the sparkles of hope and rejoicing, let us magnify them and return these elements of life to God. The kingdom of God, this is the miracle, grows through these ‘minuscule’ fragments.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..