19th Sunday, O T Year A – 17
1 Kg.19:9, 11-13/ Rom.9:1-5/ Matt.14:22-33
A Jewish rabbi and his friend a Catholic priest were traveling together in a train and it being a long journey they started to talk. Rabbi: So, what’s your next move, padre? Priest: Well, if I’m lucky I might get a parish of my own.
Rabbi: And then? Priest: Well perhaps I’ll be made a Monsignor and maybe even a Bishop! Rabbi: And after that? Priest: Well I suppose, it’s just possible that I could become a Cardinal. Rabbi: Yes, and what after that?
Priest: Well, it’s ridiculous to think about it. But I suppose I could become Pope! Rabbi: And then? Priest: Well that’s it, Pope! There’s only God after that. Rabbi: Well, you never know, after all one of our Jewish boys from Nazareth, made it!
It is not a joke about me. For me if not Sacred Heart, may be St. Mary’s or may be St. Antony or may be St. Joseph, or may be St. Michael…
This is the way the world is whether it is politics or the world. I could go on and on but won’t. We know we’re burdened and our hearts are heavy. We know we are carrying heave burdens. “Where is God in the midst of all of this?” some ask.
Today’s first reading presents us with the Old Testament prophet Elijah likewise in a state of despondency. Three days prior to the episode we just now heard in today’s first reading he was so miserable that he was asking God to let him die.
We find him here in this reading hiding in a cave, seeking shelter in solid rock. But just as he finds shelter in a cave along comes an earthquake and then a hurricane of a storm that smashes the rocks and cliffs of the mountains, threatening to drown him in chaos.
“Where is God in all of this?” he was asking. What is God saying to me in all of these events? Elijah, however, couldn’t figure anything out until he was able to hear the voice of God in a tiny little whisper.
The voice of God came to him in the most unexpected of ways. And so, it is with us. The disciples and Peter found themselves to be in similar circumstances, only this time out in an open boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee in a raging storm.
“Where is God in all of this?” they wondered. Peter spoke up and said, “Lord, if it’s really you over there tell me to come to you across the water.” Peter, we see, had his doubts.
We find our own lives these days surrounded by chaos. The floodwaters of social change along with the cultural earthquakes of our times, globalization, terrorism, and the energy crisis severely threaten us.
Only one in four of our nation’s households today have the typical arrangement of mom and dad living together in the same home with their children. Stated another way, only one in four children find themselves in typical, traditional homes.
Indeed, the very definition of the so-called normal family is at issue. Drugs, AIDS, absent fathers, divorce, an unstable economy, job loss, and a surrounding culture that’s alien and hostile to the normal family are the storms and floodwaters that threaten us.
Child abuse, pornography, sexual wantonness, and a blatant media exploitation of sex, violence, and lust for money assault the moral characters of our youngsters, the solid ground of normalcy.
Teenage suicide is frequently reported; teen gangs and drug gangs roam our city streets at will. “Where is God in all of this?” we cry. Confidence is the word we need to take into our hearts and souls today.
Confidence. Confidence comes from a Latin word; it means, “to believe with”. We cannot have confidence when we’re isolated and all alone. We cannot have confidence all by ourselves. No, we can only have confidence when there’s an Other near us, the Other that is God.
And that’s the point of today’s readings. One can find confidence, even in the worst of storms, even in the most chaotic of times. You can go through the worst that life can throw at you if only you keep up your contact with God.
No prayer? No confidence. Stop coming to Mass? No confidence. Not sharing in the life of the Church, in the Body of Christ? No confidence. Soon you’ll take your eyes off of Jesus, and just like Peter, you will sink.
Soon you’ll only be able to hear the screaming wind, the awful noise, and the deafening roar of the storms and winds in or world that shake the very foundations of your life.
And without the voice of God and the eyes of Jesus to hold you steady, we, like Peter, will either be blown away or drown. Is your life getting out of control? Is your faith slipping away from you? Are you experiencing more and more powerlessness in the chaos that surrounds you?
If so, here’s what you do. Find a place of solitude and silence. Go to your room, shut your door and gather around you as much silence and solitude as you possibly can. Then kneel down by your bedside and in that silence and in that solitude, say: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
If you do that, you’ll be in exactly the same position that Elijah was. Look into the eyes of Jesus, you’ll be in exactly the same position that Peter was.
Never forget, after all was said and done, God restored Elijah in power, and eventually swept him up into heaven. And after all was said and done God in Christ saved Peter, saved him even from himself.
And God will do no less for us, if and only if we give our confidence to Christ and remain faith-full to our Father in Him. The real question, you see is not “Is God absent from us.” Rather the real question is: “Are we absent from God?”
May we be filled with that confidence.