1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a; Ps 85:9-14; Romans 9:1-5; 14:22-33
There is a link in the first and gospel readings today. The Elijah story harkens back to Moses on the same mountain amidst storms, lightning and clouds when God gave him the Ten Commandments. Yet God was not those frightening elements.
In the story today, Elijah is on the same mountain. Why? The Jews had moved into Canaanite pagan territory between Syria and Egypt. Elijah, a major Jewish prophet, was running for his life from Jezebel. She was the queen of Ahab of Israel and fostered worship of Baal, the most important pagan Canaanite god of rain, storms and fertility. Jezebel also supported 450 of Baal’s false prophets. Elijah challenged those prophets on Mt. Carmel and had them all killed.
Jezebel vowed to kill Elijah. He was led to a cave on Mt. Horeb. God told him that he would be passing by. God was not in “a strong and heavy wind,” nor in “an earthquake,” nor in a “fire.” God was in a “tiny whispering sound” (gentle breeze).” Elijah covered his face and went to stand at the mouth of the cave as God passed by.
Chapter 14 of Matthew is interesting. Herod had John the Baptist imprisoned and at his birthday party had John beheaded in prison. When Jesus heard of John’s death, he went away by boat to be alone to pray. The crowd found out and ran around the lake to reach the other shore before Jesus.
When Jesus saw the vast crowd, he had pity on them and healed them. After that Jesus fed five thousand men plus women, children and others with five loaves and two fish. They picked up 12 baskets of leftovers.
Walking on water
After those healings and the multiplication of food, Jesus sent his disciples across the lake while he dismissed the crowd. Then he went up the mountain alone to pray. At the fourth watch, which in Roman time was between 3 and 6 a.m., the disciples were being tossed about in the boat by strong winds and waves.
Jesus approached the boat walking on the water. They were frightened, and impetuous Peter got out of the boat and, while keeping his eyes on Jesus, walked on the water until he looked down, doubted and began to sink. Jesus stretched out his hand, rescuing Peter.
What is the link between these stories? God is there to rescue and speak to his friends. Jesus said to his disciples: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
God is always with us. He created the entire universe and us in our mother’s womb. He knows everything and keeps us in existence as he provides for us even in the storms of our lives. As we keep our eyes and thoughts on Jesus during our busy day, we can hear his voice and experience his help.
Jesus, we commit ourselves to be your disciples, students and friends. We want to get closer to you, hear your voice and be your heart and hands blessing those around us each day. Have a good week as we pray for one another.
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2017 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)