1. Last week we began the readings which bear witness to God’s PROVIDENTIAL CARE. In the Gospel of Feeding 5000, we see that CARE for our physical needs as He prefigures his CARE for our Spiritual in the Eucharist. Today we learn by 3 stories, God is always present to us, with the specific purpose of Strengthening our Faith in Him, as we go through life’s STORMS AND STRUGGLES.
2. We all have personal storms and trials: Over the years, Beth and I have felt the need for and got, God’s Providential care in events like:
1) the Sudden or early Deaths of family members.
2) When we Faced the Perry Creek Flash Flood.
Or as we, 3) struggled with the Health Issues of our Grand Daughter Josie.
Each generation goes through unsettling social problems and events. From the 50’s I remember the scare of the Polio out break and the cry of Nikita Khrushchev of ‘We will bury You’. The 60’s had the Cuban Missal Crisis, Assassinations, Civil unrest and the Pill. The 70’s brought widespread Abortion, Vietnam War, and Drug Culture. In the 80’s we had the AIDS Epidemic, the 90’s Gulf War and 2000’s 9/11 event and more Terrorist acts. Today, we’re fighting the redefinition of Marriage, Religious Persecution and a Down Turn of people practicing their faith. We have much to be anxious about. Maybe we’re still in the 1st Watch of the night. The STORMS, STRUGGLES and SINS just keep coming. .
3. Elijah was a great prophet, and defender of the true faith in Israel. On a mission for the LORD, he defeated in a contest the priests of the pagan god Baal. Because of that, the wicked Queen Jezebel, murdered many brother prophets and was after him. As this was going on, his fellow Israelites were backsliding in the practices of their Covenantal Faith. All this STRESS, left Elijah in a state of depression and Physical exhaustion. Elijah STOPPED EATING and PRAYED for DEATH. God took pity on His servant and sent an angel to feed him to health, When he was able to, he journeyed to the Mountain of the Covenant and there he took shelter in a cave and WAITED for God to ‘PASS BY’.
Today, we find Elijah in the cave entrance, where he stood in the midst of a mighty wind, an earthquake and a fire before he heard a TINY whisper. The mighty manifestations of WIND, EARTHQUAKE and FIRE, showed God’s great power, but it was only in that gentle voice that Elijah recognized God’s gentle Spirit and he experienced intimacy with God who called him to trust and faithfulness under trial.
3. In the Letter to the Romans, Paul is Feeling the PAIN of rejection by his fellow Jews for His preaching Christ to them. He was explaining to the Roman Jews and Gentiles, now Christians, how the Israelites were the Chosen people by DIVINE ELECTION. To them, God gave His GLORIUS PRESENCE, the LAW, the COVENANT, the PROPHETS, LITURGICAL WORSHIP and promise of the REDEEMER. Yet MANY were unable to connect to the New Covenant.
He told them that even though, the PROMISE of salvation does ‘Come from the Jews’, it is meant for all though Jesus Christ. He goes on to say that in order to help those Jews who would not profess belief in Jesus as the Messiah, he CARES enough to Personally SUFFER hardship and offer his life as SACRIFICE, if it will bring all Israelites into the New Covenant, the Church with Christ.
4. In the Gospel, Our Lord must have purposely sent his disciples to row across the lake, knowing that they would meet strong, gale-force head-winds and be in danger. It was NOT uncommon for the Sea of Galilee to act up. He would come to their aid at the last moment, in the ‘4th WATCH’ of early light, when their STRESS level would be high, after being beaten by the waves and fighting the wind, all night.
Jesus work two miracles—walking on the water and calming the storm, with the specific purpose of STRENGTHENING their faith in Him. It worked. Jesus saved them from physical harm, but they also made spiritual strides, declaring Jesus the Messiah, the Chosen of God.
Jesus wanted to especially strengthen Peter. Already the recognized leader of the Apostles and soon to be leader of the Church. Always the most daring among them, Peter showed himself ready to risk drowning in order to prove his trust and confidence in Christ. While he trusted in Christ, all went well, but when his faith weakened he would have been lost were it not for the outstretched helping hand of his master. This is the most important lesson for Peter, his companions and now us…GOD IS ALWAYS WITH US.
In each of our stories today, we are reminded that God is working somehow, someway to show us His FAITHFULLNESS and bring us His LOVE and PROTECTION. By making His Leaders strong in Faith, as He did with Elijah, Paul and Peter, He is making His People, His Church strong. And a strong Church, through the Lord’s Presence, the Covenant, it’s Sacraments and Liturgy, the Word and Law, reaches out to help all disciples to become strong. Pulling those swirling in Sin or the consequences of Sin to Safety.
The next time you encounter a tough situation pray Peter’s Prayer aloud: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” But like Elijah listen for the answer in a Whisper: (Whisper) COME!