Yes! There IS a link between this Sunday’s OLD TESTAMENT READING [JONAH 3: 1 - 5. 10] and the GOSPEL EXTRACT [MARK 1: 14 - 20]. As with Mark’s version...
This week we continue with reflection on God-in-Christ’s constant love for us – but we approach this from another angle. Let us start by linking some words from this Sunday’s
ENTRANCE ANTIPHON with a few others from the OLD TESTAMENT READING [1 KINGS 19: 9a. 11 – 13].
In the antiphon we read, “arise, O God, and defend your cause.” The Lord only has one cause – the People of God, you and I – each single one of the world’s inhabitants. Then, in the Old Testament extract we discover that God most often rises to our defence through the simplest of means and the most unlikely events. This is what the experience of Elijah on the mountain tells us. The Lord was not in the mighty wind, nor the earthquake …. neither was he in the fire. However, “after the fire a still small voice … Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.”
In the main God-in-Christ comes to us (manifesting their love) in the ordinary, quiet, and unobtrusive events of life and living; it is “a still, small voice.“ Too often we expect the Lord’s love and defence of our cause to be spectacular, loud and clear, forcing its way into out consciousness. We have become used to great volumes and extravagant shows. The simple events (and the opportunities they present) pass us by – all too easily and sadly. Are we in too much of a hurry, too busy, to stop and notice? Is the Lord’s still small voice too ordinary to arrest our attention?
Yet, there is a further lesson to be learnt through Elijah’s response – Elijah heard it, wrapped his face in his mantle and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. In other words, he realised he was now ‘in the presence’ (wrapped his face in his mantle) and made himself available (went and stood at the entrance of the cave). There he waited because he knew that more was to be made clear and available.
So I should make myself available to the Lord in the ordinary, countless, ways he manifests opportunities of recognising his love and coming to experience how these are the immediate ways in which he comes to the defence of my cause. Elijah was not demanding, did not expect an immediate, instant, ‘waving of the wand’. He was prepared to stand and wait. WE NEED TO GIVE GOD TIME … our time, without price.
It is right here that we have a problem of our own making
– the problem of time and being still. Somehow or other we have got into the habit of believing that inactivity (stillness) is unproductive – that we have to always be BUSY! Then there is the whole heresy of time – the heresy which tells me that I simply do not have the time to be still and make myself available. I am entitled to take time for myself, If we read the Gospel carefully we will see that Jesus regularly took time out – time for himself, time to be still. WE HAVE TO MAKE TIME ….. trying to find it is a waste of time! When we make time to wrap our faces in our mantles, go and stand at the entrance of the cave and WAIT we will discover that our God comes, lovingly, to the defence of our cause – and as a result we are empowered to return to the ‘business’ which will becomes more productive – production far beyond our imaginings. WE CANNOT DO IT ALONE! WE CANNOT DO IT IN CONSTANT BUSTLE!
We need to take a look at
TODAY’S PSALM [85 or 84] and hear confirmation of what has been said. First of all there is the phrase “let us see, O Lord, your mercy” ….. and this is followed almost immediately with the words “I will hear what the Lord God speaks.” Once again we are confronted with the word mercy which last week we connected to God’s love (because of the forgiveness mercy offers), and which today is presented to us as one of the ways God’s love comes to the defence of our cause. We cannot hear what the Lord God speaks unless we are still. We cannot be busy-busy and hear what he has to say.
TODAY’S GOSPEL [MATTHEW 14: 22 – 33] we hear that the Lord took time out: “he went up into the hills to pray.” After this period of stillness he returned to the job at hand – which became very productive. It is interesting to read that Peter (while frantic with fear and worry about his life-threatening experience) doubted that Jesus was present and ‘there for him’: “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.” Notice that Peter wants to be invited to come, and Jesus says only one word in response: “come.” Peter went but he lost the plot on route. He allowed the continuing presence of the storm to distract him from his focus – JESUS CHRIST. “He was afraid, and began to sink.“ Immediately the Lord’s love reached out to him, and “stretched out his hand and caught him.”
The love of God defends our cause. However, is the acceptance of the love of God a real part of our cause?
If it is then we need to ensure that we cultivate the habit of regular periods of stillness. Otherwise when we see the wind we become afraid.