August 9: Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time. Readings: 1. 1 Kings 19:9,11-13; Psalm: 85; 2. Romans 9:1-5; Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33.
This selection of passages from Holy Scripture is especially focused on the spiritual reality that God and the Lord Jesus bless us with their presence as we practise our faith in the midst of a changing world.
For the prophet Elijah, in the first reading, that experience of divine companionship takes on a sure but mysterious air. Such things as the great wind and the earthquake might have suggested the presence of an almighty power. But the point of this passage is to highlight the almost silent atmosphere of the mountain setting. For it is there that God makes himself known, that is, in a space always associated with the Almighty. And it is there that Elijah learns what he must proclaim and do.
At the beginning of Romans 9, Paul’s thoughts are very much an indication of his calling to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to his own people, the Israelites. His divinely revealed mission is a serious one. And he feels deeply that his Jewish brothers and sisters should come to know that Jesus the Messiah has come in the flesh and continues his presence among his people everywhere.
The Gospel scene described by Matthew captures that same sense of Jesus as the incarnate divine presence, always with us, even in turbulent times. The hostile weather on the Sea of Galilee provides the right setting for demonstrating that Jesus showed himself present when needed, in anxious and distressing circumstances. His power over the forces of nature obviously confirms him as the true Son of God.
Set alongside each other, these readings work together to draw us into the revealed reality of divine presence. Each biblical author has thrown some light on what it means to believe that our God, and the Lord, wills to aid us all with blessings in a multiplicity of ways.