The Bishops Homily – 19th Sunday In Ordinary Time

19th Sunday In Ordinary Time
Cycle A | 13 August 2017
I Kgs. 19: 9-13
Rom. 9: 1-5
Mt. 14: 22-33

INTRODUCTION: Let us for today follow the Prophet Elijah’s adventures in I Kings, our first reading, and Peter’s experience in Mathew’s Gospel. Both Elijah and Peter define themselves quite distinctly in our two readings.

(1) THEIR NAMES Elijah and Peter give away their games. Elijah comes from Eliahu meaning “Jahweh is God”. His identity is anchored in what is of ultimate value to him. His name says who/what his God is. He is called by what he holds important. If family, family man; if money, money-faced; if pleasure, Mr. Goodtime; if sex, playboy; if business, businessman; Elijah is called so because he is Jahweh man so much so that he challenged Ahab who had gone to false gods and even killed the priests of Baal. Peter, who is called Rock and whose name exudes strength of character, in the Gospels is described as a man full of weakness. In the Gospel today, Peter is defined by his fears. Who/What are you afraid of defines a man as equally as who/what is his God.

(2) THE DRAMA of Elijah in I Kings starts after he had killed all the priests of Baal and “on the run” from the ire of Queen Jezebel and hides in one of the caves of Mt. Horeb/Sinai. There he is told that God is going to pass by. What follows is an impressive display of natural powers: a strong and heavy wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks; an earthquake; a fire. Elijah recognized the Lord was not in the wind, the earthquake, the fire. Elijah, being Jahweh man, refused to identify with any of the great powers of this world, no matter how impressive. Rather he recognized God in the tiny whispering sound. Secularism is the cultural incapacity to hear the tiny whispering voice; a total systemic surrender to the mighty pleasures and powers of this world. Elijah’s great virtue as a contemplative is that he is able to discern and see the difference and thus give himself to God alone. What the secular world needs today is more Elijahs’ capable to discern God’s tiny whispering voice.

(3) THE DRAMA OF PETER and the disciples in the boat in Math. 14:22 that means the Church as the bark of Peter is the drama of all of us “being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against them.” (v. 24) “When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified. It is a ghost, they cried out in fear.” (v. 26) Just as the self is defined by one’s ultimate value so we can also be defined by what we are afraid of? In the midst of the storm, Jesus comes and identifies himself: “Take courage it is I; do not be afraid.” (v. 27) He is the God who transcends anything that frightens us. Peter said: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” “Come!” (v.28-29) replied Jesus. What happened? So long as he keeps his grip on the Lord, he is ok, he walks on the water. But when he loses his strong grip with the Lord, he sinks. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, you will be alright.

CONCLUSION: So that is why we identify with Elijah’s God and with Peter’s fears to identify who we really are!

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches