The 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 13th August 2023.
Lectionary Readings: 1King 19:9.11-13; Ps. 84:9-14 (Ps. 85:8-13); Rom 9:1-5; Matt 14:22-33
Theme: God reveals himself in the breeze.
On the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the readings show us God walking with us through history. The first reading, from the first book of Kings, invites Christians to return to the origins of their faith and commitment, to make a pilgrimage to encounter the God of communion and Covenant. The reading takes place in the Northern Kingdom (Israel) during the reign of King Ahab (873-853 BC) when we see the appearance of several places sacred to foreign gods. In this historical context, the prophet Elijah appears as the representative of those faithful Israelites, who refuse to replace the one God with foreign gods. We see that Israel needs to meet God again and rediscover its vocation as a People of the Covenant.
Just as God revealed himself to Moses on Sinai/Horeb, so he also reveals himself to Elijah in the same place, however, in a different way. To Moses, God revealed himself during natural phenomena (“thunder and lightning”, a “heavy cloud”, the “fire”, the earthquake that shook the mountain – Ex 19,16-17). To Elijah, God did not reveal Himself in the typical elements of theophanic manifestations; but he revealed himself in the “light breeze.” So, God manifests himself many times in our life, in the gentle breeze, perceptible to the eyes of faith.
In the second reading, after presenting, in the first eight chapters of the Letter to the Romans, a catechesis on salvation, Paul will now refer to a particular problem, but one that concerns him and all Christians: what will happen to Israel that, despite being the Chosen People of God and the People of Promise, has refused this salvation that Christ came to offer? This text also proposes a reflection on missed opportunities… Israel, despite all the manifestations of the goodness and love of God that it has known throughout its journey through history, ended up settling into a self-sufficiency that did not allow it to accompany God’s pace, nor discover the new challenges that God’s project of salvation poses to people. Israel’s example makes us think of our commitment to God, which must be responded to daily.
This Sunday’s Gospel is a catechesis on the historic journey of the community of Jesus, sent to the “other shore”, and which invites all people to the banquet of the Kingdom that gives us the food with which God satisfies the hunger for life and happiness of his children. Jesus’ prayer invites us to have an intimate dialogue with the Father. It is in this dialogue that the disciples will gain the discernment to understand God’s ways; the strength to follow Jesus;and the courage to face the hostility of the world.
In our reflection, we see the silence of the first reading, which helps us to open ourselves to the presence of God. We realize, in the second reading, that faith always needs to be updated and be attentive to the signs of God. And in the Gospel, that it is not enough for us to stay where we are, but that we must leave our comfort zone and go beyond, because that is our mission. Thus in moments of turbulence we can say: “Christ Jesus, even when we are threatened by the storms of our land and the boat of your Church is tossed by the waves, we bless you, because of your resurrection: truly, you are the Son of God.”
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. Where are you in your faith journey at this moment? What do you need most from the Lord? 2. Do you take time to listen to the ‘still small voice’ of God? Do you need to spend more time listening?
Bibliography: McKenzie, J.L. Dictionary of the Bible (New York: 1965)
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Nayon Nigel Cezar, NDS, Israel, ISPS- Ratisbonne Contributor.