On July 20, Carmelites celebrate the feast of the Solemnity of the Holy Prophet Elijah. In the Hebrew Bible, Elijah is a solitary figure. On Mount Carmel, he challenged his people to choose one God for Israel — Yahweh or Baal. According to the First Book of Kings, chapter 18, Elijah’s sacrifice was consumed by fire, which proved to the people that Yahweh was the true God.
Undertaking God’s work, Elijah started a journey through the desert, but he lost his focus and commitment to the project. Sitting under a bush, he wished to die. But God prodded him to continue his journey to Mount Horeb. There Elijah became aware of God — not with the usual eye-catching signs of fire and earthquake, but rather as a gentle breeze. Elijah was sent back to his people refreshed. From Elijah, Carmelites learn to become aware of the presence of God in the unexpected and to be silent enough to hear God’s whisper.
“God lives in whose presence I stand”, says Elijah, and the Carmelites try to follow, recognizing God in everyone they meet and serve.