Homily (2) 19th Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael U. UdoekpoReadings: 1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a; Ps 85:9-14; Rom 9:1-5 and Matthew 14:22-33
God’s Truth Endures Forever,
The readings of this Sunday remind us that the promise made us by God endures forever. In the midst of all waves of suffering-exiles and wilderness of colonialisms, God promised to protect and save Israel, including his prophets, the poor and the faithful. He purposefully promised them kindness, truth, peace, justice, faith and hope. This is true in his divine provision for Elijah, his Son Jesus Christ and his disciples, the Church and each of us. The truth is that, God has a purpose for us; to save us.
In the first reading of today (1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a) Elijah fled Ahab and Jezebel’s threat and persecutions, having been accused of defeating and killing Baal’s prophets (1 kings 18:1-19:8).
This truth providentially led Elijah to Mount Horeb, where Moses had once encountered God (Exodus 3; 24-33). Elijah remained in the cave only to be directed by the Lord, to “go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” By standing outside, Elijah had hope that God would be found in the fire, wind or in the spectacular earthquake as was the case in the sinaitic events of Exodus 19:18. Instead, God manifested himself to Elijah, on this mountain, in a very gentle and whispering breeze.
What is this gentle -whispering breeze all about? Is it a new order of order of peace and God’s truth? It foreshadows a new way of peaceful political leadership, unlike the violence of Ahab and Jezebel. It demonstrates God’s kindness and justice. Echoes of these promises are also heard in today’s Psalm 85. It is a community lament which says’ “I will hear what God proclaims; the Lord proclaims peace. Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him, glory dwelling in our land. Kindness, and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven.”
These echoes are also heard in the entire ministry of Christ, who love, and fed the multitude in last Sunday’s gospel (Matt 24:13-21)). Today he gently dismisses the multitude; embarked his disciples on the boat to other side of the Sea, spent time in prayer on the nearby mountain, walks on the Sea. He also calms the fear brought by the tossing boat of his disciples (Matt 14:22-33). As God his father commanded the troubled prophet Elijah to stand outside for his gentle presence, Jesus recommended ‘courage” to his frightened disciples and commanded the faithless Peter to walk on the sea. Jesus also stretched his hands to help the sinking Peter.
Life as a whole, from baptism is like a journey on a boat. There are waves of suffering, anguish of fears and frustration of sinking in the Sea of life. In our lives, this Sea could be illnesses, including Ebola. It could be temptations to sin and to be uncharitable to one another. It could be temptation to abandon our Christian faith or to pursue non-Christian, violent, and business values. Sometimes we are tempted to feel that the wave is too much and perhaps the God of our ancestors has abandoned us. Paul would have felt the same frustration and anguish once in a while and during his missionary journeys, as expressed in today’s 2nd reading, Romans 9:1-15). But he knew how to bounce back in faith and hope.
In all these, including the on-going political crisis around the globe, east and west, it is important to step back, take a deep breath and re-examine the truth of God’s abiding, gentle, historic and constant presence in our midst. It is important to hold onto that faith of promise, that God has a peaceful purpose for us; to love us and to save us. His gentle plan and truth endures forever!