Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2017
In Chaos or in Silence: Where could we encounter God?
In as much as the above question poses a serious theological riddle, we have one choice, which is to address it! God, though is omnipresence, which means according to the Psalmist there is no place that is hidden to God. This statement has to be qualified. To do so, we need to look at the First reading and the Gospel of this Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
In the first reading, taken from the First King, “Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter. Then the Lord said to him, "Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will be passing by." A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was fire but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire, there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.” Without doubt, Elijah could only behold God’s presence not in a noisy and chaotic environment, but clearly in a very tiny whispering sound – which can be interpreted as in silence. The Gospel of Mathew reflects the first reading when it says that, “At once Jesus spoke to them, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." Peter said to him in reply, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come." Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" After they got into the boat, the wind died down.” Here, our Lord demonstrated the power over storm and chaos, hence, when after they got into the boat, the wind died down.
My brothers and sisters, from the two accounts we have examined, we are invited to deeply reflect the importance of meditation and praying in silence. Not that we cannot be heard by God at any time or at any place. No. But it is very important part of our Christian spirituality to learn to tune out the worldly noise, and listen to God speak to us in silent-meditation. At Mass, we may recall that priest often observes a few minutes of silence after the homily so that the word of God preached, could sink in and find a dwelling place in our hearts; likewise, after the reception of the Holy Communion, the priest, again sits and observes a few minutes of silence to allow us to quietly participate in thanksgiving to God for the gift of his Body and Blood at Mass. In silence is better to encounter God than in chaos, Amen!
Father Uche Obikwelu