Shikrot Mpwi – Sunday Synopsis with Fr. Justine J. Dyikuk
19th Sunday of the Year – August 13, 2023
Readings: 1 Kings 19:9,11-13; Responsorial Psalm Ps 84:9-14; Romans 9:1-5 & Gospel Matthew 14:22-33.
Theme: A Genuine Search for God!
The first reading reveals how the Prophet Elijah had a divine encounter with God on Mount Horeb not through a mighty wind, earthquake, or fire but through a gentle breeze. In the second reading, St. Paul goes emotional by expressing great sorrow over his fellow Jews for not living up to expectation. The gospel narrates how the apostles were terrified when they saw Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee. It tells how Jesus saved Peter from sinking. Our liturgy invites us for a divine encounter with Christ through the Church which represents the boat and urges us to dispose ourselves to listen to God through the gentle breeze of quite time and communing with nature.
Beloved in Christ, our liturgy invites us towards a genuine search for God. While it reveals how Prophet Elijah found God through a gentle breeze at Horeb, it narrates how St. Peter walked up to Jesus on the water. It is curious to note how and why Jesus revealed himself through nature.
Summary and Background of the Readings
The first reading (1 Kings 19:9,11-13) tells how the Prophet Elijah went into a cave at Horeb and spent a night in it. It further discloses that God told him to go out and stand on the mountain for a divine encounter. We are told that the Lord went by. Just then, there was a mighty wind which tore the mountains and shattered the rocks, but the Lord was not in the wind. There came an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. This was followed by fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. But at the sound of a gentle breeze, Elijah covered his face with his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cake.
In the second reading (Romans 9:1-5), St. Paul goes emotional by expressing great sorrow and mental anger towards his fellow Israelites who were adopted as sons and daughters of God, given the glory and covenants, laws and rituals as well as promises but did not live up to expectation. He further lamented why the descendants of the patriarchs and flesh and blood of Jesus who is God forever would betray such lofty privileges.
The gospel (Matthew 14:22-33) unravels the encounter between Jesus and his apostles on the Sea of Galilee. John the Baptist had been killed and as usual, Jesus withdrew into the hills to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, far out on the lake. There was a heavy wind. In the fourth watch of the night, he started walking on the lake towards the disciples. When they saw him, they were terrified and taught it was a ghost.
Jesus called out saying: “Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.” Peter then obliges him to walk on the water. As he walked towards Jesus, he felt the force of the wind, took fright, and began to sink crying: “Lord! Save me.” At that, Jesus stretched out his hand and held him saying: “Man of little faith. Why did you doubt?” As they went into the boat, the wind dropped. Those in the boat bowed down before him saying: “Truly, you are the Son of God.”
Discovering God in Silence
Once there was a farmer who discovered that he had lost his watch in the farm. It was not an ordinary watch. He had sentimental attachment to it. After searching the hay for a long while, he gave up and called the help of a group of kids playing outside the barn. He promised them that the person who found it, would be rewarded. Hearing this, the children hurried inside the barn, went through and around the hay but still could not find the watch.
Just when the farmer was about to give up looking for his watch, a little boy approached him and asked to be given another chance. The farmer looked at him and thought, “Why not? After all, this kid looks sincere enough.” So, the farmer sent the little boy back to the barn. After a while, the little boy came out with the watch in his hand. The farmer was happy and surprised and asked the boy how he succeeded where the rest failed. The boy replied: “I did nothing. I just sat on the ground and listened in silence. When I heard the ticking of the watch, looked in that direction and found it.” At Horeb, the Prophet Elijah found God through the sound of a gentle breeze – silence.
1. Shun debauchery: The first reading urges us to shun debauchery and cacophony of wild music including noises which tear the mountains and rocks of our spiritual foundation that distracts us from concentrating genuine encounter with God.
2. Be agents of evangelisation: The disciples represent priests and religious who are reminded that they have a duty to minster in a world that is full of headwind which St. Paul laments about in the second reading.
3. Stand firm in trials: Since the headwind represents trials, tribulations, and temptations such as sickness, hunger, unemployment, ethnic tensions, strife, death, bereavement, rejection and persecution, we are urged to stand firm.
4. Take to meditation: In a world that is distracted by noise pollution of all sorts, we are called upon to encounter God in the gentle breeze of spending quite time with him through daily meditation, other created realities (nature) and being with Jesus before the blessed sacrament.
5. Find God in the Church: Like the Ark of Noah which saved only the righteous in Old Testament times, the boat which Jesus and his apostles used symbolizes the New Ark that is the Church (where we find God and salvation) sailing on the Sea.
1. The first reading tells how the Prophet Elijah went into a cave at Horeb and spent a night in it.
2. It further reveals how God told him to go out and stand on the mountain for a divine encounter.
3. In the second reading, St. Paul goes emotional by expressing great sorrow and mental anger towards his fellow Israelites [for not living] up to expectation.
4. The gospel reveals the encounter between Jesus and his apostles on the Sea of Galilee.
5. Jesus withdrew into the hills to pray.
Our liturgy assures of God’s abiding presence in his Church. By calming the wind and saving Peter from drowning, Jesus demonstrates his abiding presence in the Church amid the vicissitudes of life. Amidst the fear of failure, unemployment, hunger, sickness, and death, he comes in the dead of the night to whisper: “Courage, it is I, do not be afraid.” Just as God revealed himself to the Prophet Elijah in a gentle breeze, we are called to follow him in contemplative spirituality. Only a mature contemplative spirituality can position us for divine help. May our Sunday Worship inspire us to be courageous enough to face life as it is and always call on Jesus especially when our faith is failing like Peter’s. Have a terrific week ahead!