August 18, 2011

Homily: 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The sound of a gentle breeze’

Elijah had gone to the cave trusting and waiting for the Lord to reveal himself to His prophet. He prayed that he would be given the wisdom to be able to hear the call and to recognise what it was that the Lord was asking of him. The conventional wisdom of the Old Testament and for us is that God always shows Himself in a material and physical manner. He is the Almighty, He has created the world and He works miracles and shows His powerful arm therefore it would have been very proper for them to have recognised the Lord in the mighty wind, the earthquake and fire - all of which Elijah witnessed. However it was in the gentle breeze that Elijah knew the Lord was present. He covered his face with his cloak and went out to be with the Lord.

Somehow we always want God to come to us and to speak on our own terms, in our own language and for us to be in control. In our pride we want to have confidence that our exchange of conversation and information with God must be in ways that we can control and manipulate.

In the last few days there has been news of another economic crisis and as some of us were talking about this it seemed as though all institutions, so important for the functioning and well being of society, are made of straw. The police, the media, the Church, the world of politics and the financial sector are all falling apart. These albeit on a large scale also reflect the drama of our own spiritual lives.

Peter wanted to be in charge, he was the leader, he was the one who always had the answers and as the Lord came walking on the water towards him Peter wanted to lead from the front. He got out of the boat, started walking towards Him and then as he felt the full force of the wind he began to lose courage and sank. He was afraid. Peter was unable to give himself complete in trust to the things of God. Perhaps it was that he couldn’t let go of his pride, this was how he understood and saw God and prayed and this was how he understood the role of leadership. What we hear is that the full force of the wind caused him to take fright which is a lesson to us that it is all very well to have God on our terms, almost as a fair weather friend, but if we are not prepared to give ourselves completely to him then we do not truly understand what the relationship with God should be.

We need to ask of ourselves, what stops me from trusting – what are the things I will not let go of? Do I stick rigidly to my way of perceiving and understanding God? Am I attached to materialism or are there perhaps relationships which are not of God that I am not prepared to give up?

If we do not have eyes for Christ in the middle of the storm then we have eyes only for the world. Christ wants us to come into communion with Him, remember how it was at the beginning of the Gospel; Our Lord went into the hills to pray, to be alone with his Father indeed one could say that he was obsessed with the life of prayer and with being with the Father. He then came back to encounter his disciples and to encounter us. What does this say to us about our need to be alone with God, to be people of prayer and to be like Elijah and encounter the gentle breeze?

H/T St Patrick's Soho

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