HOMILY FOR THE 19TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME, YEAR A.
THEME: The Storms and the Still Small Voice.
BY: Fr Peter Gabriel Okon.
READINGS: 1 Kings 19:9,11-13 / Psalm 85 :9, 10-11, 12-13, (R. 7.) / Romans 9:1-5 /Accl: Psalm 130:5 / Matthew 14:22-33
Today’s readings are filled with highlights of divine intervention in the midst of human struggles. Reflecting that God is interested in our affairs, He does not leave us alone in our moments of storms. The storms faced by Elijah, Paul and the Disciples despite following the will of God truly reflect what many Christians go through today regardless of their commitment and trust in God. Believe and trust in God does not exclude one from the vicissitudes of life.
In the Gospel reading, we read about the troubling experience of the disciples in the middle of the sea, at night. The wind, the storms, the darkness, the immensity of the water, everything seems to be against them. This can be very scary for anyone regardless of familiarity with the terrain, as we know that some of them were fishermen and water experts. The sea in biblical interpret, stands for the domain of demons, while the wind represents the hostile forces of this world. Thus the disciples’ experience on the water is symbolic and a reflection of our various experiences in the world as christians.
Recall that the disciples were actually carrying out the command of Jesus, to go to the other side, and not just cruising or running away from responsibilities as in the case of Prophet Jonah. The storm was natural. Anyone would be got up in it. In the midst of the storm, Jesus intervened and saved them in a very dramatic and miraculous fashion, walking on the same water that is about to swallow them up. What causes fears and a threat to our lives, serves only as a walking surface for our God. The walking on water by Jesus is symbolic of God’s Supremacy and Sovereignty over every domain and powers. The attitude of Peter, is the big step we need, no matter the littleness of our faith, is enough to take the leap. His lost of focus is expressive of our human vulnerability and hence constant need of divine help to deal with every storm and vicissitudes of life.
Just like the Apostles, we see Elijah in the first reading equally grabbling with life threatening experience. Before his encounter with the angel of God and journey to the mountain cave, Elijah had triumph over the false prophets of Baal, slaughtering them, which angered Jezebel. Elijah could nit celebrate and enjoy his victory. Jezebel sort to kill him and he fled to the mountain cave. While the sea represent the domain of demon, of evil, the mountain represent the place of encounter with the Divine, a place of prayer and refreshing touch with nature.
On the mountain, Elijah’s encounter with God through a “still small voice” calmed his fears and restored hope and peace. Shortly before Jesus embarked on walking on the water, He went into the hills (mountain) by Himself to pray. These two episode is for us ministers a model, that no matter how busy we are with the people, we need time to ourselves to be alone with God in Prayers. To encounter Him on the hills, so we can “walk with Him on the waters of life” to still our storms and that of those entrusted to us. While on the mountain, we need not expect a thunderous or tsunamic experience of the divine; and we may not be heard by our explosive and dramatic calling on Him, but like in the case of Elijah, just a still small voice is enough for God to communicate with and to us. All we need is that time with Him and faith.
Jesus’ intervention in the gospel points to us that in every storms of life, God is always there to help, to calm our fears, to call us out of the sinking boats. We need the faith to step out and take His hands, like Peter. We need the grace and resilience to remain focused on Him, trusting that His Presence and Power will still the stormy waters of life for us to walk through to our true destinies and purposes.
Dearly beloved, whatever your storm may be; a troubling marriage, an enduring ailment, an addictive sinful behaviour, a stubborn and unrepented child, a nagging or an unfaithful spouse, a threatened reputation, a dissapointing past that still hurts, a regrettably choice of life, et cetera, is only but a moment in the journey of life. This might be your moment of storm, but is definitely not the end of the voyage, Jesus is saying, “Take courage, it is I, have no fear” (Matt 14:27). This is the still small voice of God, calling us to freedom from anxieties, to peace and solace, to healing and fulfillment. Let us listen to Him, respond faithfully and follow His lead to be saved. He sure knows our struggles and He is with us. Only that we are yet to let Him into our sinking boats, the storms will be over.
Lord, grant us the grace not to be overwhelmed and swallowed up by the storms of our lives but fix our gaze on you at all times to gain strength and be saved Amen.
Wishing you a peaceful and fruitful Sunday.
Fr Peter Gabriel Okon.
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