19th Sunday Of Ordinary Time – Year A.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“Revelation Of God And The Revelation Of Christ”.
The first reading and the Gospel use the same theme: the Revelation of the Face of God.
In the first reading we have YHWH who manifests himself to Elijah in a completely new way, different from the ones of the pagan gods and from the way even Israel was accustomed to.
The second reading also touches a similar theme as it reminds us of the serious difficulties Paul had to face in his life. We could say that he was saved by Jesus who stretched out his hand to him, as he did to Peter.
In the Gospel we have a further revelation of God, the one that was made through Jesus who comes, like the God of the Old Testament, as the master of the sea, giving the same divine powers also to humans.
Guide to ‘Live’ the Sunday Liturgy:
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
If at all possible, share this Bible Reflection time with a family member, a friend or someone you wish to bring to Christ. Jesus said in Mt. 18:20 – “For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.”
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests, bishops and Catholic theologians who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a ‘Prayer’ are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. With faith and perseverance, we will start to put into practice the Lord’s teachings; begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love, God’s will, and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator. Meditations and Prayer on the Reflections should be done daily – first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.
It may be necessary to pray and repeat the study of the Bible Readings and Commentaries more than once, or even on a daily basis, if you feel that you have not yet grasped the Lord’s special message for you.
“In the Old Testament the ‘New’ is hidden.
In the New Testament the ‘Old’ is laid open”.
1 Kings 19:9, 11-13a.
Elijah lived in a period of history characterized by profound political and social changes. The first reading of today refers to the ninth century before Christ. A shrewd and intelligent general called Omri takes over power through an armed uprising, and begins a radical transformation of his kingdom. In a short time he turns Israel into a rich and powerful nation. He arranges marriages between his family and the families of the other kings in the neighbourhood. One of these marriages has particular disastrous consequences for the religious life in Israel: The one between his son Ahab and the shrewd, ambitious and beautiful daughter of the king of Tyre, Jezebel. She will be the one to teach her husband how to govern; she will introduce customs from her own country and will try to uproot faith in YHWH.
The prophet Elijah raises a loud protest against this ‘cultural colonization’. He cannot however prevent many of his countrymen from embracing the new culture and religious practices brought in by the new queen and is forced to flee south and take refuge in the desert, where rises the mountain of God on Mount Horeb. “There came a mighty wind…after the wind came an earthquake…after the earthquake came a fire…” and he thought he was already in the presence of Yahweh. Why? Because in the past God had always manifested himself this way. Even when he revealed himself to Moses, this was accompanied by spectacular natural events. But Elijah to his surprise discovers that the Lord is not in the wind, in the earthquake or in the fire, but in the sound of a gentle breeze.
By changing the way of revealing himself, God is telling the prophet that his way of imagining God is not proper: it is still mixed with the pagan, superstitious, and uninformed ideas of God. Even Baal, the god of Jezebel, has always allegedly manifested himself in the midst of thunderbolts, storms, earthquakes, rain, and in the fertility of the soil and of the cattle. God is completely different and no longer accepts to be represented with the same images. It is not easy for Elijah to accept such a change, which is so different from what he had always imagined and firmly believed so far.
Elijah’s experience is also what happens to all of us. Aren’t there still many Christians who worship a God like the god of the pagans or of the Moslems: a God that punishes and rewards, who sends illness and adversities, who does not allow the rain to fall on evil people? None of us can base our faith on ignorance. It is necessary for those who still think this way to set out immediately, like Elijah, and get ready to discover the new face of God and meet God on his own terms. Elijah did just that and it was so powerful that he hid his face in his cloak.
The Psalm is part of a liturgy for a good harvest. A prophet gives a message of reassurance from God. The word “peace” is repeated. God is a God of peace and justice, the God who passed by Elijah. The psalmist adds another dimension, that our God is striving to bring about a world where everything is as it should be: ‘love and truth meet, justice and peace shall kiss, truth shall spring from the earth, and justice looks down from heaven’.
In the second reading Paul, who was temporarily blinded by his encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, anguishes over Israel’s blindness to the miracles and teachings of Jesus. Paul even tells us that he is ready to suffer condemnation and to be cut off from Christ, if this could help his brothers and sisters of Israel. It is certainly a paradoxical way of saying things that show how strongly he feels about the problem. In the last verse he lists all the privileges that this people received from God. The last, and most important, is that Christ is a son of Israel. This experience of Paul is what often happens even today. All of us have had the painful experience of seeing some members of our family, or very dear friends of ours refuse to learn about Christ, the Gospel and the Christian way of life.
The God of the Bible is the Lord of nature. All creatures obey his laws, even powerful winds and uncontrollable water.
Today’s Gospel text seems to continue the first reading. God has revealed his face progressively: first in creation, then through Abraham, the patriarchs and Moses. In his manifestation to Elijah on Mount Horeb there was a great change in quality in the way of our understanding and speaking about God: for the first time somebody realized that God was not to be confused mainly with natural phenomena. Still today many of us make that assumption.
In the Gospel of today, Jesus’ disciples discover something still more amazing about him. They begin to realize that, like God in the Old Testament, Jesus is Lord of nature also. They also discover that with total faith in Jesus as the Son of God they, too, are able to do things that are impossible for human beings to do, like walking on water.
As followers of Christ we too need to take this all-important step and recognize the face of God in the risen Christ who still today stretches out his hand to his disciples who are struggling amidst the obstacles and difficulties of life.
Jesus meets his disciples as they are crossing the lake to the other side, the place where the non-Jews, the ‘pagans’ live. They are on a missionary journey into unknown territory and they are frightened. Jesus shows that he is Lord of water by walking on it. This revelation of Jesus’ extraordinary power prompts Peter to walk with Jesus but the wind scares him. He has to make another act of faith, crying out to Jesus as ‘Lord’. Jesus intervenes and saves him.
A journey into the unknown requires enthusiasm, but enthusiasm is not enough. They cannot count on their own strength to fight against the wind or to walk on the water. Faith in Jesus is what is really needed. These ‘men of little faith’ will be surprised to meet in that foreign land a Canaanite woman of ‘great faith’ (Mt 15:28). Today’s reading acts as a summary of the growth of faith in the disciples. First they see Jesus as a ghost, then they call him ‘Lord’, finally they all worship Jesus and acknowledge that he is indeed the Son of God.
There is growth from misunderstanding to understanding and a confession of faith. For Matthew, this final stage of their faith prepares the way for the first clear profession of faith made by Peter later in the Gospel (Mt 16:16). What the disciples experienced, we also go through in our own lives. In the beginning we are attracted to Jesus. We give him a place in our hearts. We pray and meet him in the sacraments. But unfortunately we keep him out of many areas of our lives. We do not think that Jesus has anything to say regarding our business, our professional work, our relationships, and our marriage. To accept Jesus is to make him part of our whole life and nothing less.
When we hear a moving sermon our hearts may beat with enthusiasm and excitement for Jesus. We need complete trust and to keep our eyes steady on Jesus so as not to sink when the storms and waves of life hit us hard. Neither Elijah or Peter had the faith to match their zeal, but God supported both of them in their dangerous tasks. That promise is extended to all who put their faith in God and in his Son, Jesus Christ.
Often when we feel that we are battling against all odds, we wonder why Jesus always seems to be off somewhere else. And even though we know that we won’t be asked to walk on water, we get that sinking feeling all the same. In that plight we are not thrown back on our own resources. In this community gathered in faith, we have the Word of God and the Bread of Life, the Sacraments, the guidance of the Church, the presence of the Spirit and the support and the love of each other. That has to be enough to keep us afloat. Jesus is always near!
If we only look for the Lord in earthquakes and lightning bolts we are way off the mark. The Lord is more subtle than that. Sometimes he sneaks up on us in ways that we never would have expected; perhaps in the guise of a stranger who is desperate for our help?
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week to lead us in the ‘Way’, the Truth and the Life’:
Almighty God and Father, on the…of the week following the
19th Sunday of Ordinary Time: Year A, we reflect on ….
Sun … The first reading today is about how Elijah received the revelation of God on mount Horeb: “There came a mighty wind. After the wind came an earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire”, and Elijah thought he was already in the presence of YHWH. In the past God had always manifested himself in a similar manner. Elijah finds God in an unexpected place: in the sound of a gentle breeze, not in earthquakes and fire. This gentle passing by of God prepares us for Jesus’ passing by in the Gospel.
Mon … In a similar way, God makes himself known to us today gradually. In Old Testament times he revealed himself in various words and happenings throughout the long history of Israel. By changing the way of revealing himself God is telling the prophet and us that the accustomed way of imagining God is not proper and no longer accepts to be represented with violent images. Many of us today need to change our image of God according to his own terms. God will reveal himself to us in the manner he wishes, not as how we would wish him to be.
Tues … Over 2000 years ago, God revealed himself through his only begotten Son, Jesus of Nazareth. This was a full revelation as God in his wisdom saw fit to give us. In turn, the Son committed himself to the Church to live out his words and work until the end of time. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, something prevents many of us from recognizing God.
Wed … In the second reading Paul, who was temporarily blinded by his encounter with the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus, anguishes over Israel’s blindness to the miracles and teaching of Jesus. There are 27 listed miracles in the Gospel; are we still blinded as to who Jesus really is and too stubborn in refusing the Good News”?
Thurs … The story of the boat in the storm anticipates the time and life of the Church. Jesus had gone up the mountain to pray anticipating the time after his ascension. Peter skippers the boat (Church). The storms today are obvious. But ‘God is watching us,’ even if it is ‘from a distance’. God is always with us but we are not always with God.
Frid … When you walk through a ‘storm’ (the difficulties and challenges of life) hold your head up high. As long as Peter looked toward the Lord he could walk on water. But when he focused on the ‘heaving sea’ (our troubles and tribulations) he began to sink. Let us never lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings us to perfection.
Sat … Like Peter we, too, have our frightening moments in our faith’s journey and we begin to doubt. This is part of our growth; through doubting we get to know Jesus better when, like Peter, we confess Jesus as Lord and come to a deeper faith. Let us always pray: “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief”.
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after the Daily Reflection.
Father, we thank You for always guiding us through the many storms in our lives. We may not always recognize Your presence but our faith impels us to believe and trust that You are always there, even if at a distance. We pray that Your Divine Presence never leave us.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group. Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.