Homily 19th Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
· 1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a;
· Rom 9:1-5
· Matthew 14:22-33
God of Our Peace: It is he; do not be afraid!
Today we gather on this mountain, God’s presence, God’s abode to celebrate the God of peace; to worship the God of truth; to adore the God of love and gentleness. A God who can walk on the sea. Who can calm the storms and the waves of life? On this mountain, he says to each of us today do not be afraid of violence. In this house God says to us today do not be afraid of wars, threats and waves of war. Do not be afraid of Ahab and Jezebel. Do not be afraid of the wild winds and storms, it is I (ego eimi, ayer asher ayeh). This God of peace is revealed not only in the songs we sing today, or the Eucharist we celebrate, but also in the passages of today’s scriptures.
In the 1st reading (1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a), we are told the prophet Elijah came to the mountain and sheltered himself in the cave. But first of all what brought Elijah to the mountain? He was fleeing from the threats and persecution of Ahab and Jezebel, who had accused him of challenging and defeating their 450 false prophets, Baalism (1 kings 18:1-19:8). Elijah was searching for peace, truth, and security.
What brings you to the church, today, if I may ask? I am sure we came to pray for peace, joy, calmness, God’s blessings, good health of mind and body. None of us come here to pray for nuclear war in our neighborhood or for violent and threats of Jezebel and Ahab, who had threatened Elijah!
In the case of Elijah peace was not found in the cave. Peace was not found in the fire and fury! Peace was not found in the storm. Peace was not found in the earthquakes, as he stood on top of the mountain. Prophet Elijah found peace, security, truth, and God in the gentle breeze that passed by.
In our daily challenges, and storms, when you are being pursued or chased around by economic hardship, threats and fear of the unknown and debts, this is the type of peace each and every one of us are looking for, especially when the world seems to be against you!
Do you notice that in today’s Gospel (Matt 14:22-33), Jesus, the new prophet, like Elijah, was also on the mountain by himself to pray? This is after he might have generously fed the crowd and directed his disciples, including Peter, into the boat, who preceded him to the other side. It was not long when Peter’s boat was being tossed around by the waves, for the wind was against it. Peter and his colleagues were afraid. They even mistook Jesus on the sea to be a ghost!
Peter’s faith was not strong enough as he stepped out of the boat or attempted walking on the water to meet Jesus! Peter was afraid of the wind! And cried out, “Lord save me.” It only takes the Jesus, the Lord of peace not only to calm the sea, but to save us, and to save Peter, even with his little faith, even with his little courage of stepping out of the boat to meet Jesus!
Think of our own situations and problems today. We do have our waves and storms of life in form of disunity, racisms, conflicting opinions of theologies and spiritualties; persecutions and misunderstandings, threats of war, poverty, ill health, loss of our loved ones, and hostilities even to the planet and our environments; break down of family values; global indifference to the plight of the poor; secularism and consumerism tendencies. As we gather on this mountain today to pray like Elijah and Jesus, let us remember that, in our storms, waves and life’s turbulence, that Jesus is the source of peace and calm! And we want to always listen to him say to us “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid”!