Bulletin: Aug 13, 2017
Our readings today drench us in God’s kindness. The Old Testament reading, Paul’s letter, and the Gospel demonstrate God’s creative and personalized outreach to us. In each case, we see a different reaction to God’s gestures. Elijah drinks in his consolation, recognizing God in gentle silence and going out to meet God. The Israelites, according to Saint Paul, though encountering God in a variety of ways through the centuries, ultimately reject the Messiah whom God sends to them. Peter thinks he recognizes the Lord coming to him on the water, but demands proof and grows frightened. At all times and in all places, God longs for us to believe and goes to great lengths to strengthen our faith. Ultimately, God never compels belief, but leaves us free to choose. Today’s scriptures challenge us to consider our own response to God’s constant work in our lives.
Today’s readings console and challenge us, reminding us just how hard God works for us so we might have faith. God’s labors are infinitely diverse, too, always tailored to fit our particular situations, personalities, and needs. In Elijah’s case, he is hiding in a cave on the very same mountain where Moses once encountered God in the burning bush. Hunted by the pagan Queen Jezebel, Elijah is running for his life. While Moses experienced God in fire on this mountain, Elijah requires a gentler touch. God comes to him not in awesome displays of power, but in a “tiny whispering sound.” God provides exactly the tranquility Elijah needs before sending him off on a new mission.
God’s creative care for us does not always lead to faith, however. In a strikingly tender passage, Saint Paul shares his heartbreak that God’s chosen people could reject Jesus, even after all God has done to prepare them for the Messiah. God has accompanied the chosen people through adoption, miracles, covenants, commandments, prophets, and kings. Despite ages of dedicated and inventive caregiving, God’s people do not unite in worship of the true Messiah. The proper response to this lack of faith is sorrow, and Saint Paul pours out the “constant anguish” in his heart.
In yet another astonishingly creative gesture, God visits people in need of faith by defying the laws of nature. Matthew’s Gospel describes Jesus actually walking on water to comfort his disciples during a storm at sea. After their terror subsides and the winds grow calm, faith floods the disciples’ hearts. They worship Jesus, proclaiming, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”
TO THE LIMIT
Sometimes God’s creative overtures are almost too much to handle. In a daring effort to trust, Peter challenges Jesus to share miraculous power with him. Jesus obliges, and Peter walks on water. Peter enjoys his miracle until his natural limitations spoil his faith. Just imagine what barriers we can shatter if only we believe.
Today’s Readings: 1 Kgs 19:9a, 11–13a; Ps 85:9–14; Rom 9:1–5; Mt 14:22–33