Gospel Reflection – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

The first reading today is from 1 Kings and, as monks, we feel a close affinity to the words. Let’s read them:
‘There came a mighty wind, so strong it tore the mountains and shattered the rocks before the Lord. But Yahweh was not in the wind. After the wind came an earthquake. But the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire. But the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there came the sound of a gentle breeze. And when Elijah heard this, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.’
Elijah experienced God as gentleness, as nature. He was not expecting this. You see, humanity has a long history of putting God to the test. We want him to smite our foes, to appear as the great wonder worker. Think of Jesus on the Cross and those around him saying, if he is the son of God, let him save him. And think of the Israelites in the desert who continually put God to the test. You could see this as wishing that God were a magician, requesting that he does tricks to astound us.
What we forget is that we are already living within the miracle. We are part of it. And this miracle is still something we cannot understand. We never shall understand, not fully.
We want confirmation of divine activity and we even say that we see things or hear things to kid ourselves. Silly online videos, that are obviously doctored, of visions in the sky, commented on by hundreds of people praising God for a cloud that looks like Mary, and other such nonsense.
Whilst we go around like St Thomas, demanding evidence, Jesus asks us to trust, to have faith. We must remember that God is already with us.
What we can be afraid of is boredom, of not seeing miracles, of the everyday humdrum of life. And it is during these times that we can remind ourselves that we are in the midst of a continually evolving miracle. It is during the boredom of life that we can remember Jesus’s words: ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ and as the Psalms remind us: lift up your eyes, lift up your hearts.
A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew 14:22-33
Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he would send the crowds away. After sending the crowds away he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, while the boat, by now far out on the lake, was battling with a heavy sea, for there was a head-wind. In the fourth watch of the night he went towards them, walking on the lake, and when the disciples saw him walking on the lake they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost’ they said, and cried out in fear. But at once Jesus called out to them, saying, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ lt was Peter who answered. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water.’ ‘Come’ said Jesus. Then Peter got out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus across the water, but as soon as he felt the force of the wind, he took fright and began to sink. ‘Lord! Save me!’ he cried. Jesus put out his hand at once and held him. ‘Man of little faith,’ he said ‘why did you doubt?’ And as they got into the boat the wind dropped. The men in the boat bowed down before him and said, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God’.
The Gospel of the Lord.