REACHING OUT TO HIS OUTSTRETCHED HAND

 Reflection for the 19thSunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
(1 Kg 19:9, 11-13; Rm 9: 1-5; Mt 14:22-33)

The Prophet Elijah lodged in a cave at Mount Horeb, where he waited for the Lord to appear to him. A great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks, but the Lord was not in the wind. Then came the earthquake and the fire, but the Lord was not there. Finally, a still small voice came. It was there that the Lord visited Elijah!

Meditating on this popular story of how Elijah encountered the Lord at Horeb, we could see the calmness, the serenity, and the attentiveness necessary for a Divine Encounter.  Within that still small voice, unlike in the other scenes, Elijah had to listen attentively. This would require ‘projecting himself’ towards the voice to hear it. In this way, the ‘still small voice’ draws him from himself towards itself. This is the internal silent movement of the heart towards God; this is how we become ‘docile’ to the word, which is alive and active. Remember, it is first the gentle coming down of the ‘still small voice’ that wakes up the heart and attracts it through active attentiveness. Hence, no one hearkens to the word of God without denying himself, i.e. coming out of his selfish self. Thus, when Elijah heard the voice, “He wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.”

In the Gospel, we see Jesus going up the hills to ‘meet’ the Father in prayer. As Elijah would move from this encounter to his mission, Jesus came down from the silent hills of prayer and walk on the water towards the disciples as they battled with the storm. They thought it was a ghost. But the ‘still small voice of Jesus came to them: “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.” Hearing His voice, and while the storm was still raging, they shifted their attention from the destroying storm to the saving Jesus. Like Elijah that came out to ‘meet the voice’, “Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.” The storm was still blowing strong and great. Peter shifted his gaze from Jesus to the storm. He forgot that it was his gaze of faith upon Jesus that kept him ‘walking on top of his problems.’ Immediately, his heart broke to pieces, his legs shook like an earthquake and the fire of fear consumed him. And Peter began to sink. But he cried out to Jesus, “Lord, save me.” Jesus reached out His hand and caught him, saying, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt”

They all got into the boat and the storm ceased. Just as at Horeb, ‘the great and strong wind, the earthquake and the fire’ gave way to Jesus, the Still Small Voice. With Jesus in the boat, all became calm. The boat became serene like the cave of Elijah when he encountered the gentle voice. This, too, is our story when we welcome Jesus into our lives, our family, work, business, Church, society, etc. He comes gently, walking towards us as we battle with the storms of life. Our hearts must go out to meet Him inattentiveness to His word. And our ‘feet’ must step forward with courage where he calls, like stepping into the storm of hurt with the feet of forgiveness.

Like Peter, Let us call out on the Lord with ardent prayer life. Jesus’ saving hand is outstretched towards us. Imagine that ‘boat’ to be something very important to you today but going through turbulence!  You can never sink in the ocean of life if your eyes of faith remain focused on Jesus. And we will join our voices to say to Him, “Truly you are the Son of God.” As you have shared in this meditation, May Almighty God bless + you, The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Tedi-Muwo, Lagos.
Sunday August 9th, 2020.
www.nwachinwe.blogspot.com

 

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