1 Kings 19: 9a, , 111-13 – Romans 9: 1-5 – Matthew 14: 22-33
There are times when what we hear from the Scriptures, God’s communication with us as a part of our celebration of the Mass, require us to dig a little deeper to appreciate the message. Then there are times when the message is quite evident. Today is one of those latter instances.
In the story that we heard today from the Book of Kings of the Old Testament, Elijah encounters the Lord, but not in ways that might be expected. The Lord is not in a strong and fearful wind. The Lord is not in an earthquake. The Lord is not in fire. It is in a gentle wind that the Lord is experienced. The Lord’s presence is portrayed as a cooling breeze on a hot day, a refreshing and reviving presence.
In the gospel account, Saint Matthew portrays a similar image, but it starts with a stormy wind. As we heard, the Apostles are out in a boat when the wind starts to toss them about causing them to be gripped with fear. In the midst of all of this, the Lord appear. He is a calming vision in the midst of the storm.
Both images are rather obvious and are also especially pertinent right now. Certainly in all of our lives little would be more disturbing or disrupting than the experience of these last few months and the world-wide pandemic. While we might focus on our own particular situation and how we are each affected, the experience has clearly touched every part of the world in some way. At the same time we can also look at other aspects of our lives that make it seem as if a tempest or a storm is striking us. Our lives can feel like they are filled with the earthquakes of upsetting and tragic events. There can be the fires of strong and disheartening conflicts, or the stormy winds of illness, suffering and injustice. We can feel ourselves tossed about aimlessly in the ship of life.
In the midst of all of this, the Lord comes to us as a calming presence. Frequently, like the Apostles, we do not recognize the Lord, thinking the Lord to be a phantom or a ghost, an unknown, even adding to our fear. But our Faith tells us that the Lord is with us, even in the midst of a storm. The Lord comes as one who reaches out to us, as one to whom we can reach out in return.
In addition to asking the Lord to be with us, there is another question that can arise. As believers, as practitioners of our Faith in the God and in Jesus Christ, the encounter with God which has been described today is to be an experience that others find in us. The softness of the breeze, the calming of the storm, are to be guides to us in how we choose to live our lives. But, indeed, this can be even more of a challenge to us. It is a challenge to show forth the peace, the loving-kindness, the mercy, the forgiveness that the Scriptures portrays to us. It is a challenge to recognize that this is not only what we can experience in our own relationship with God, but also what we are to reflect to others in our lives if we sincerely seek to live out the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.
So it is that we can ask ourselves: Do others – family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, store clerks and so may others – all of whom we encounter from day to day, encounter in us, the good and gracious God?