Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A (13 August 2017)
1 Kgs 19:9, 11-13
Theme: Why did you doubt?
Faith, in Hebrew, is emunah. According to Green, “Emunah in the Bible has the sense of affirmation and trust, a commitment of the entire self to the truth as told, seen or witnessed.” [Green, 125] In today’s Gospel, we read about Peter’s faith in Jesus. He already had it even before he stepped into the water, otherwise, he would not be doing so. His statement seemed just rhetorical, “If it is you, Lord, command me to come into the water.” He already knew it was Jesus. Peter sank because he lost his focus. He accommodated his fears and became self-focused. In a sense, he did not devote his entire self to the truth about Jesus. The disciples, in Matthew’s Gospel, were constantly rebuked for their little faith. Even up to the end of the Gospel after Jesus’ resurrection, some still doubted. [Matthew 28:17]
The story of Elijah, also, has shown tremendous faith that has gone into doubt. Prior to the section that we are reading today, Elijah challenged 450 prophets of Jezebel. Both the prophets and Elijah were to set up an altar and call on their gods. Whoever responded would be the most powerful and the true God! The prophets of Jezebel strained and cried to their god, but to no avail. Then, when it was Elijah’s turn, the whole sacrifice was consumed by fire along with the surrounding elements. But the story did not end there. When Jezebel found out that her prophets were slain, she threatened Elijah. Fearing for his life, he went into hiding in a cave in Horeb, where he was instructed to anoint kings and his replacement. Did Elijah lose his faith and doubt? Surely, the one who showed power must be able to save him also from Jezebel.
Jesus told us that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we could move mountains. But most often, our faith diminishes when we are tried the most. Indeed, how do we keep our faith in the most difficult circumstances?
But we can rest assured that God also reaches out to us. In the case of Peter, when he became fearful of the winds and sank, Jesus caught him. When they returned to the boat together, the storm subsided, peace descended on them, and they recognized God’s presence. God, too, revealed God-self to Elijah in sheer silence and Elijah was able to perceive God’s presence. Perhaps, faith is indeed a mutual experience.
For Reflection and Discussion: Can you recall an experience in your life when your faith was deeply challenged? How did you respond? How perceive God’s presence?
Bibliography: Green, These Are the Words: A Vocabulary of Jewish Spiritual Life (Vermont, 1999)
This week’s Sunday Gospel Commentary was prepared by
Sr. Petite Lao, RNDM - Bat Kol Alumna 2010, 2014
Delesan Kailawan, Kulaman, Sultan Kudarat, Mindanao, Philippines
[Copyright © 2017]
PLEASE NOTE: The weekly Gospel commentaries represent the research and creative thought of their authors, and are meant to stimulate deeper thinking about the meaning of the Sunday Scriptures. While they draw upon the study methods and sources employed by the Bat Kol Institute, the views and conclusions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of their authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Bat Kol. Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome
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