AMID THE STORM
1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:22-33
We are in the midst of one of the greatest storm periods of our lives – the coronavirus pandemic, the resultant lockdown, and their aftermath; thunderstorms in several parts of India; tension on the Indian frontiers; the horrifying blast in Beirut; growing unrest in several parts of the world. Many of us are overwhelmed.
The readings of today feature people who are overwhelmed by events in their lives. Amid chaos and devastation, they experience God’s abiding presence.
The first reading features Elijah who had confronted the infidelity of the monarchy and slain the false prophets of Baal; in revenge, Jezebel threatened his life. He fled into the desert, where he prayed for death! An angel comforted him and gave him food. On the strength of that encounter, he journeyed forty days to Horeb. There he faces more chaos: a wind that crushed rocks, an earthquake, and a fire. Then he experiences the presence of God in “a tiny whispering sound”. Elijah’s flight to Mount Horeb ends with an encounter with God.
Paul (second reading) is overwhelmed with sorrow that his fellow Jews had not accepted Christ. His faith is steadied by recalling God’s irrevocable gifts to Israel.
The gospel features the disciples caught in a terrible storm which swamps their boat. They battle the storm for 7-10 hours. When they are in disarray, there is more chaos and fear—for they think they see a ghost. It is Jesus who reassures them: “It is I (literally I am); do not be afraid.” These words would have evoked memories of Yahweh’s revelation to Moses (Exodus 3:14). The disciples’ crossing to the other side, interrupted by a destructive storm, ends with an encounter with God.
When destructive forces assail me, let me walk on like Elijah; when the storms of life engulf me, let me keep battling them like the disciples. The Lord is with me to sustain me. And at some point, perhaps when I reaches the “depths”, I will encounter him. I will hear those reassuring words: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” May the storms of my life cease with an encounter with God. Then, like Elijah and Peter, may I walk on. (Courtesy Fr. Vinod SDB)