for Sunday, August 13, 2017
Many of us think of God and strong and powerful—and God is that. But God also shows Himself to be weak and poor and powerless. Today's readings show us this God who is so powerful that He can be weak and poor for our sake.
The first reading is from the First Book of Kings and is about the Prophet Elijah—one of the greatest of prophets. There are so many accounts of the strength of this Prophet and yet he relies completely on God. Today this Prophet has fled to the holy mountain, Horeb, which is probably the same as Mount Sinai. This mountain is where the 10 commandments were given to Moses. It is a place of encounter between God and His people.
When we think of the 10 commandments being given, we think of thunder and lightning and enormous displays of strength and might. Today, in the same place, God manifests Himself in a tiny, whispering sound. This is the God who can be all powerful and also be insignificant and weak—all because He loves us just as He loved the Prophet Elijah.
The second reading is from the Letter to the Romans. Here Saint Paul is telling us how he would willingly give up everything for the sake of the salvation of his own people. We are given powerful words: "They are Israelites; theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; theirs the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen."
We are challenged to give our lives for our own people and for all peoples. How much do we love? How much do we care? Has salvation become simply a private possession for me to have—and to ignore all others. No, this cannot be. We must be like Saint Paul and long for the salvation of all other peoples.
The Gospel from Matthew today is the wonderful account of Jesus walking on the water and then inviting Saint Peter—who said that he wanted this gift—so walk with him. Saint Peter panics and lets fear get hold of him. And he sinks. "Do not be afraid." Pope Saint John Paul II often used those words to encourage others. We also must learn not to be afraid. Our faith will let us do amazing things. The most amazing is simply believing. From that faith, that belief, we are given strength for so many other things. The most important is to love and to serve others with all our strength. We must hear the words of Christ echo within us as we love and serve: Do not be afraid.
Readings of the day:
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: