Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ninetieth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A

August 13th, 2017

Fr. Francesco Msofu

There are three major learnings we may reflect from today’s readings: In the first reading, Omri became the king of Israel after the death of king Zimri. He remained in power for almost 12 years. Omri, however, was not a good king with regards to the faith of the Israelites.  He repeated the sin of Jeroboam I by making Samaria the center of worship, hence, refusing to recognize Jerusalem only legitimate shrine. He also made alliances with pagan nations, established trade and strengthened his army.  In addition to that, he arranged a marriage between his son Ahab and Jezebel, the daughter of Tyre.  When Omri died, his son Ahab came into power.

Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, introduced pagan religion, its customs and traditions to Israel, which endangered their faith.  While she led the people of God astray by forcing them to follow the pagan god, Baal. The prophet Elijah proclaimed to the Israelites that they should remain faithful to God and that they should worship in Jerusalem and not in Samaria. As a result, a conflict between Prophet Elijah and Jezebel arose, and Jezebel sought to kill the prophet Elijah.  In order to save his own life, Elijah fled to Mount Horeb, where God revealed to him in the sound of a gentle breeze.

In the second reading, Paul expressed his great sorrow and deep anguish because the Israelites have rejected the Gospel of Christ.  Given that the Israelites are the chosen people; Abraham, Moses, Isaac, Jacob are their patriarchs; God’s Covenants and the Ten Commandments were given to them; and Jesus Christ is their Messiah; they would have been proud of and they would have all reasons to receive him. Unfortunately, they did not believe Him nor receive Him as the Messiah and the Savior. Because of that, Paul was very sad and said that he would be ready to experience suffering in imitation of Christ if this would help his fellow Israelites accept Jesus Christ.

In ancient times, the sea was regarded as the abode of the devil due to its violent temperament. It was seen as the enemy of people and only God could calm its violence and walk on it (Ps 107: 25-30; Job 9: 8). The Evangelist Matthew shows us how Jesus revealed himself as the Master of the Universe and He can counter all the forces that threaten human beings.  In the Gospel reading, we are also told of Peter asking Jesus if he could walk on the water. Jesus, who is the master of nature, granted him that power. Peter, however, was frightened because he did not keep his eyes on Christ and lost his trust that Christ would fetch him when he falls.  Some of us too may blame Peter for his lack of faith. But we should ask ourselves: do we not sometimes like Peter lose our trust in God, especially when we encounter challenges or difficulties? Today we need to commit ourselves, to look earnestly at Jesus and trust Him that He will definitely help us (Ps. 37: 5).

In our Life

  1. God does come to help us as He helped Elijah during his difficult life. Jesus too comes to save us as He approached his disciples and calmed the storm. The readings today show us that we should not be afraid. In the midst of difficulties, we should ask help from God. The gospel also reminds us the importance of keeping our focus on Jesus who will always help us.
  2. Prophet Elijah was a man of God and a defender of faith. Let’s always be ready to provide answers to those who ask us of our hope and faith. We should also be ready to defend our faith whenever it is required (1 Pet. 3: 15).
  3. We should note that one of God’s favorite ways in communicating with us is in silence. Like Prophet Elijah, we need to discover God in the depth of our own hearts. We don’t need to look for God only in extraordinary things and forget the simple yet most effective ways (the ordinary things).  We can achieve this through prayer, meditation and reflection, spiritual retreat, adoration to the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus, our Lord is always available, ready to receive our invitations so that He can come and meet us in our hearts (Rev. 3: 20).