The Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
The Lord told Elijah to "Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by." Although God is sometimes present and acting in the big and powerful hard to miss ways, God seems to prefer to meet us in the quiet moments in which the Lord’s voice, like a “tiny, whispering sound” can be heard. It’s that voice which we all long to hear and find it almost impossible to hear because we have lost our peace to the noise and troubles of daily life. Elijah had lost his peace and God was decided to help restore it. It was in the quiet of creation, of Elijah’s being that he was enabled to encounter God and experience the restoration of peace which allowed him to recognize God speaking to him.
After having fed, taught and dismissed the crowds, Jesus “went up into the hills by himself to pray”. He heads to the place of the Father for some serious quality time alone. The disciples, meanwhile, are making their way across the lake. As Jesus prays and the disciples cross, time passes and in the deep of the night the winds become strong and the seas grow rough. Just at that point in the night before the dawn begins to break, they see the figure of a person walking on the lake and approaching them. They become terrified. “It is a ghost!” But, that familiar voice speaking familiar words calls out to them saying “Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.”
When faced with difficulties and turmoil non-believers and believers alike, seek God. When faced with rejections and persecution, believers seek God. When full of fear, the disciple cries out to Jesus. Today’s readings can speak to us in many ways, such as when it convicts us of only resorting to faith and prayer as a last resort. But let’s focus instead on understanding God’s abiding peace and how essential prayer is for helping us never to allow that peace to be disturbed or destroyed.
Let’s allow God to remind us that there is never any need for fear and anxiety. Today’s readings remind us that living in God’s abiding presence allows us to remain in peace and that conversing with God in prayer should be our first instinct, at all times. In this way, we will succeed where Peter failed and always be able to see and hear what the own chosen people continue to miss. If we are to succeed where others failed, we must realize that prayer is a non-negotiable essential part of growing and maintaining strong relationships with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Prayer at times alone with God, and prayer at times with others such as when we gather together here in God’s house. Jesus quietly speaks and gently touches us every day. We can never miss it, if we remain in Him and He remains in us. The Holy Spirit helps us to remember what Jesus said to his disciples at the last supper, John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” He is the abiding source of peace for us in the turbulence of the world, our families and our own hearts.
If we don't take time to cultivate these relationships, chances are our peace, our confidence will be swept away by strong winds and rough seas of life and be replaced with fear, anxiety, doubts and feelings that God has abandoned us. We will fail to recognize the Lord when he comes to us on the seas of life, most especially when he comes to us in the Eucharist.
We need to spend time in personal prayer every day, to go up the mountain and into the enveloping stillness, alone with God. Shhh… can you hear it, the "tiny whispering sound" of his voice. We need to gather together and pray with each other, here on this mountain the house of God. Where Jesus gives himself to us in silence and peace; really present, body, blood, soul, and divinity, in the sacrament of the Eucharist - the ever-present safe harbor for our souls. When we receive Holy Communion, when we gaze upon the Host at Mass, it is a privileged moment of intimate, personal contact with our Lord. Christ, comes to us once again across the stormy seas of our concerns, worries, and weaknesses; welcome him. Proclaim "Truly, you are the Son of God."
Only when everything is still and quiet does Elijah hear the voice of God and receive the guidance he needs.
Peace doesn't just happen; it's made.
CampusPadre is a college ministry Priest Chaplain with 30 years experience in youth and young adult ministry, who strives to let the Holy Spirit lead and challenges students to seek holiness above all.