HOMILY FOR THE 19TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A.
THEME: Waiting for God in Difficult Times.
BY: Fr. Luke Ijezie
Life is full of difficult moments and painful experiences. In such situations, we naturally feel the need for God’s presence and quick intervention. We suffer terribly when we feel His apparent absence. These are trial moments for the believer. We find all these dramatized in the experiences of the personages in the readings of the nineteenth Sunday of the liturgical year.
1. In the first reading from 1Kgs 19:9a,11-13a, we find Elijah in very difficult situation. He is almost depressed. After labouring for God on Mount Carmel he finds his life in mortal danger and remains frustrated and lonely. His experience at Horeb dramatizes what is actually taking place in his life. As he waits for God’s manifestation, he is disappointed not to find the presence of God in the strong wind, the earthquake and the fire. All these express the violent and miraculous ways he wants God to intervene to show His divine power before Jezebel and Ahab. Afterall, God had in the past shown His power to Israel through such manifestations. These phenomena also express the turbulence in Elijah’s life in which God appears to leave him alone to suffer. But at last, he finds God in the gentle breeze. God’s ways are mysterious. Sometimes, He appears where we least expect Him. Elijah seemed to have presented God as a God of violence through his earlier approaches to situations. The present appearance through the gentle breeze means that Elijah’s expectations of a violent Deity is not the whole picture. The psalmist of Psalm 85 captures it when he presents God as full of kindness, One who speaks peace to His people. So, He is a God of peace and gentleness.
2. In the Gospel of today from Matt 14:22-33, we meet the community of Jesus in turmoil. The community with its boat is menaced by a heavy sea wind. There is mortal danger for all. The worst is that the Master is not with them in the boat. Here we meet a typical life situation: suffering amidst life tempests, and God does not seem to be present. How many times have we found ourselves in such terrible situation? How many times have we derailed in the face of such turbulence? But before the disciples in the boat would give up they see their Master walking normally on the stormy water and coming towards them. He is walking gently on the water amidst violent wind, as if nothing was amiss. He is moving like a gentle breeze to confront a heavy, violent wind. He is, as it were, on top of the situation. He proves that he is far greater than the storms and tempests that menace his followers. All that the followers need to do is to believe, to acknowledge the fact that the power in their midst is far greater than the forces that menace them. Peter takes the challenge to come to Jesus and begins to walk on the violent waters to his own greatest surprise. But his courage does not last, for in a moment of distraction he removes his gaze from Jesus. He turns away from the superior force propelling him and gets preoccupied with the force of the wind and his innate weakness. What a near tragedy! He begins to sink. How many times have we experienced near catastrophe because we turned away from God or failed to remain faithful? But the admirable thing in this dramatic moment is Peter’s humility to cry out to Jesus for help. It requires courage and humility to ask for help when we are faced with the consequences of our weakness. God is ever ready to rescue us in our helplessness. The Psalm of today says it: “His help is near for those who fear Him and His glory will dwell in our land” (Ps 85:10).
3. In the second reading from Rom 9:1-5, the Apostle Paul grieves for his errant people, as he sees them sinking like Peter amidst the strong wind. Their faithless conducts have brought them calamity, but they fail to look up to the real Master for rescue. As people of God, we always have at our disposal the ready hands of God to rescue us every moment we lose our bearing and fall into the danger of getting lost. But most times, our pride makes us think we can do it alone without Him.
4. The experiences recounted in all the readings of today express our day today experiences of hardship, doubts and uncertainties. But as life becomes harder and harder today, we are encouraged never to lose faith. As the storms of economic hardship threaten to blow us away and scatter our families and communities, we are encouraged to look up to the Master who is ever on top of the stormy situation. There is always reason to hope for a better tomorrow. All that is needed courage and faithfulness. Yes, the psalmist sings it loudly: “Mercy and faithfulness have met; justice and peace have embraced. Faithfulness shall spring from the earth and justice look down from heaven. The Lord will make us prosper, and our land shall yield its fruit” (Ps 85:11-13).
May the everloving and promise keeping God make us always experience His saving presence in all our moments of suffering, trial, doubt, and uncertainty!
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