Nineteen Sunday of Year A: Reflections – Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Divine Provision Surpasses our Expectations
Each and every one of us has an expectation or a certain sense of participation in the events of life. Elijah had one, as well as Paul and Peter in today’s readings. When we gather particularly, as a community to worship God, it is these events that we reexamine in the light of faith, to discern the handiwork of God, his surprising presence in the events and moments of our lives, in order to adjust how we relate with God and with our neighbors.
It must have been very surprising to the fleeing Elijah in the first reading (1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a) that God’s presence, his encounter with him is not found in the usual biblical and spectacular manifestation of divine presence; like storm, wind, earthquake, fire, (Exodus 19:18 and Deut 4:12), but God can be encountered in a gentle whispering sound (1 Kings 19:11-21).
Prior to this God fed the starving Elijah. He strengthen him who was expecting death, and said to him: “go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, because the Lord is about to pass by” Like Elijah, in every situation of our lives, even the hopeless and faithless ones, God expects us to come out of our ego, out of our violence, war, misunderstanding, out of the cave of our expectation and faithlessness and stand before God, in order to experience His divine passing in our lives; a passing from war to peace, vengeance to forgiveness, military actions to dialogue, diplomacy and prayer.
Similarly, in the Gospel (Matt 14:22-33) Peter and his friends, became afraid because of what they saw. They witnessed an unexpected phenomenon of Christ walking on the sea. Peter in particular was confused. He requested Jesus invite him to a similar walk on the sea. Even with Christ’s invitation, being a man of “little faith,” could not make it to Jesus on the sea, except with Christ’s helping hand, (Matt 14:31). This is what each and every one of needs.
It is these divine helping hands and gentle presence that strengthen Elijah, changed the stormy wind to a gentle breeze of peace. It soothes the uncertainties, and faithlessness of the disciples- symbols of the church and who we are, men and women of little faith, in constant need of God’s grace. It is this divine grace that sometimes becomes present to us in a mysterious manner that we pray to dispose ourselves to.
Especially in today’s world where naitons are constantly at war with each other and Christians are increasingly loosing faith in their God or disappointed by some of their civil and ecclesiastical leaders. May we all seek to realize and dicern God’s constant presence among us and cherish His divine provision which often surpasseses our limited human expectation.