August 9, 2020 | 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)
Reading 1: 1 Kings 19:9, 11-13
Reading 2: Romans 9:1-5
Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33
If you asked someone where they usually find God, I think there would be some pretty standard answers that would come out: at church, in the adoration chapel, at a conference. We have places that we peg as “God’s places”, and because of that, sometimes it can be difficult to recognize the ways in which He’s present in all the other parts of our life, especially when it seems like He is absent or silent.
The first reading, which tells the story of Elijah encountering God, was one that I never really understood growing up. With God being exactly who He is – the creator of the universe, the king over all living things – it confused me that He wouldn’t come in a big, showy way. As we hear in the first reading, there was a great wind that split all the rocks in its path, a great earthquake, and a fire. But the Lord was nowhere to be found in all of those. And just when you think that the Lord isn’t going to show up for Elijah, there is what is described as “sheer silence” (1 Kings 19:12).
He came to Elijah quietly, peacefully. He might have even missed God if he blinked.
In the noise of our lives, sometimes we expect God to cut through the noise. We expect Him to break down walls, strike us with lightning or put something in our midst. We expect Him to make things explicit and obvious when it comes to discerning His will. But instead, God opts for a more subtle approach. He doesn’t raise His voice, nor does He hold up a neon sign. He comes quietly – humbly, almost – and wraps us in His arms.
Now don’t get me wrong: if it is His will, God will work in the details and through signs. But if we continue to demand signs and only begin to trust His goodness through grand gestures, we lose sight of who He really is. It’s like Peter walking out towards Jesus on the water. A grand gesture, but the moment Peter takes his eyes off of Jesus, he begins to sink.
Friends, our God loves us so much that He gives us choice and free will. He doesn’t want to suffocate us or overwhelm us. This is why He approaches us with so much tenderness and quiet. Above all, He wants us to choose Him. He wants to meet our gaze when we transfix our eyes onto Him. When we do that – when we put our trust and desire in Him – we can do amazing things. Suddenly, we’re able to hear Him even in the midst of the silence. But this will only happen when we cultivate that deep relationship with Him: when we put our faith in HIM as opposed to the favours or signs we expect Him to grant us.
Jesus in the Gospel today reassures us: “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27). No matter what we might be facing at this moment, let us turn to meet His gaze and repeat those same words in our hearts. He comes to us quietly, yearning for us to reach out and take His hand.
Verse for reflection: But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” — Matthew 14:26-27
Questions for reflection: Do I put major expectations on God? Do I trust in His plan for me, even when He seems “silent”?
Prayer: Lord, you are the Prince of Peace and master over all my thoughts and desires. Help me seek your face, even in the silence. Give me the courage and strength to keep my gaze fixed on you.