August 10, 2014 – Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Truly, you are the son of God.” The Apostles acknowledge that truth after witnessing all that occurred on the Sea of Galilee. What a 24 hours those Apostles had experienced. Jesus performed the miracle of feeding thousands with a small amount of food, and then He not only walked on the water, but the Apostles witnessed Peter walking on the water (admittedly only briefly), and then saw the powers of the Lord as He caused the storm to cease.
This Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time includes readings which speak of rejection, and then love and acceptance and forgiveness. The first reading from the First Book of Kings describes how Elijah fled and tried to hide, but, of course, neither Elijah nor we can really hide from the Lord. Also like Elijah, if we choose to follow the Lord and be His disciple, there may be times when we feel isolated and discouraged.
Note how God comes to Elijah, asking the question (both before and after these verses in First Kings), “What are you doing here, Elijah?” God asks that question although the Lord knows the answer. God does not always come in dramatic fashion — storms or fire or wind. Often, He comes the way this reading describes Him — “a tiny whispering sound.” God may approach us in similar ways, and in order to hear and understand Him we must focus on God, and we must be prepared. That is why prayer is important for us, because God is also there in the silence.
In the few verses from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, our second reading, Paul covers quite a bit. Paul is saddened by the state of the Israelites. These are the same Israelites who have made life very difficult for Paul, but Christ-like, he showed love and forgiveness. Paul also states quite clearly that Jesus is indeed God: “…the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever.” Lives of stewardship demand that we be like Paul, showing love for all, forgiveness for all, and the willingness to embrace our Lord and Savior always.
The Gospel from Matthew, describing the scene on the Sea of Galilee, featuring Jesus and Peter, confirms what happened to Elijah in the first reading and how Paul feels in the second reading. Although Jesus questions Peter’s faith when St. Peter sinks into the water, it is a positive comment on Peter that he knew exactly to whom to turn, “Lord, save me.” We need to have that acknowledgment of the Lord’s power and grace on the edge of our consciousness at all times, too.
No doubt when Peter leapt from the boat and began to move on the water, his eyes were on Jesus, but when he realized the force of the wind and the waves, he may have diverted his eyes, and in that instant he sank. What a clear reminder to us that we must keep our eyes and our concentration on the Lord, not on the storms which may arise around us. Imagine the situation: there is a raging storm; suddenly out of nowhere Jesus appears; Peter responds; Jesus saves Peter and they get into the boat, and scripture reminds us “the wind died down.” From the noise and danger of the storm suddenly there is peace and calm. Experiencing this contrast, understanding that the power of the Lord is suddenly found in the silence (like the “whispering sound” in the first reading), the Apostles declare “Truly, you are the son of God.”