Homily for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 13, 2017, Year A
When we go back to the Book of Numbers, we shall find written the job description of a prophet. It says: The prophet is one “whose eye is true, … one who hears what God says, and knows what the Most High knows, … who sees what the Almighty sees, in rapture and with eyes unveiled.”
Prophets have to say things as mandated by God, however unpleasant they might be. This was why they were often looked on as troublemakers. This was certainly Elijah’s case, and he had powerful enemies. We are all familiar with his encounters with David, Ahab and Jezebel.
A lot of people in the world today might wonder why the Israelites frequently considered prophets as enemies and even killed them. But are we really different.
We claim to live in the 21st century, but people in our time have behaved far worse than the Israelites. Let us be truthful on this. How often have people in our age tried to stop the Church from exercising its prophetic responsibilities in the world simply because it is a challenge to their lifestyle.
Today we encounter Elijah. He is a little different from other prophets. He did not write any book. His story is told in the two Books of Kings. And from these two books, we can see that he is more of a doer than a speaker.
In today’s first reading, he teaches us how to discern the presence of God. Although he knew that God certainly could be in the wind, or the earthquake, or the fire, he recognized in this case that God was in the gentle breeze. This is a pleasant image.
In a way, he is reminding us that God could be found in those simple people, things and places that we sometimes tend to ignore.
God could be found in little children, in the poor and in those people which the society consider as outcasts.
It does not matter our economic situations. It does not matter our academic qualifications. It does not matter our race. It does not matter our gender. I can go on and on. We are all equal. We are all created in the image and likeness of God. No one is to be seen as more important than the other persons.
This issue of discernment is one of the characteristics of the Pontificate of the current Pope Francis. We have to pray for it, because we need it in every circumstance that we find ourselves. We need it to be able to resolve some tough issues confronting the Church today.
The gospel reading today is all about faith. And the man at the centre of it all is Peter. At the promptings of our Lord, Peter was able to get out of the boat and walk on the water with him. But when he took off his eyes from Jesus, and allowed himself to be intimidated by the force of the wind, he started to sink. As a result, he was called a man of little faith.
But he still had faith that our Lord would be able to rescue him. And so, when he called out, our Lord extended his hands and rescued him.
We can easily apply this to ourselves. With the help of the Lord, maybe we have been able to deal with some serious issues or overcome some serious temptations in our lives. Then, for whatever reason, our faith had faltered, and we began to sink.
We should not lose hope. We can take consolation in the fact that we can be heard, if we can call out to the Lord.
Some of us fail to call out to the Lord for help because of pride. We are too full of ourselves. We are so used to the philosophy of “Do it yourself” that we can’t recognize when we need help.
But we are reminded that our Lord does not consider all these. All he wants is for us to call out like Peter, because he sees that as a manifestation of faith. And he will never fail us.
Let us pray in this Mass asking God to give us the grace to be able to put to effective use the little faith that we have got.