Theme: THE LORD BRINGS PEACE, SHALOM, SALVATION
- 1 Kings 19:9. 11-13;
- Psalm 84:9-14. R/ v. 8;
- Romans 9:1-5.
- Matthew 14:22-33
Today is the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that the Lord brings peace, shalom, salvation! The gospel today tells us that the disciples were in a boat battling a heavy sea because there was a strong headwind. More importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus walked towards them on the water! Jesus was the Son of God! Most importantly, the gospel tells us that Peter walked towards Jesus, but when he felt the strong wind, he lost faith and began to sink, but Jesus saved him! And when they entered the boat the wind dropped! There was peace, shalom, salvation!
Today the Church is troubled from within and from without! From within, the Church is troubled by the scandalous sins of its ministers, its theologians teach against the Pope, its people do not obey the teachings of the Church, particularly in abortion and contraception, and many of its people do not even come to Mass on Sundays. They do not believe in the Church and they do not believe in God! From, the outside, the Church is troubled by the world, by secularism, by unjust government laws, by extremists of other religions, by persecution, etc.
In all these, the Lord comes to bring us peace, shalom, salvation! We have to repent and we have to be renewed in order to experience the peace, shalom, salvation of the Lord! There are many renewal movements in our parish, e.g., the Charismatic Renewal, the Life in the Spirit Seminar, the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs), the Neo-Catechumenal Communities, the Bible Sharing Groups, the Alpha Course, etc., but most importantly, we have to come to Mass every Sunday! After Baptism, we are renewed every Sunday by the Eucharist!
The first reading follows the theme of the gospel! The first reading tells us that after Elijah destroyed the prophets of Baal, Queen Jezebel was after him to kill him. The first reading tells us that Elijah went to Mount Horeb, that is, Mount Sinai, where God appeared to Moses. God appeared to Elijah on Mount Horeb! As at Mount Sinai, there was a strong wind, there was earthquake, and there was fire; but the Lord was not in the strong wind, not in the earthquake, not in the fire! Then there was a gentle breeze. The Lord was in the gentle breeze! Like in the gospel today, the gentle breeze symbolizes the peace, shalom, salvation of the Lord!
Again, the Church is troubled from the outside by the world, by secularism, by modernism, by governments that make discriminatory laws, by extremists from other religions, by persecutions, etc. Again, in these times of trouble, the Lord brings us peace, shalom, salvation! Again, the Church has to repent and be renewed in order to experience the peace, shalom, salvation of the Lord!
The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord brings us peace, shalom, salvation, through his justice and mercy! The Lord is both just and merciful! As Saint Pope John Paul II said of the conflict in the Middle East, ‘There can be no peace without justice, and there can be no justice without forgiveness’! Thus we responded and prayed three times:
“Let us see, O Lord, your mercy and give us your saving help.”! (Ps 84:8; SM)
The responsorial psalm itself (84:9-14) is an oracle of salvation! (NJBC) Note the words “justice, mercy and peace”! Thus we read:
“I will hear what the Lord God has to say, a voice that speaks of peace.” (Ps 84:9; SM) “Mercy and faithfulness have met; justice and peace have embraced. Faithfulness shall spring from the earth and justice look down from heaven.” (Ps 84:11-12; SM) “Justice shall march before him and peace shall follow his steps.” (Ps 84:14; Sunday Missal (SM))
Note that “justice” in the Bible is “saving justice’! Thus verse 11b in the New Jerusalem Bible reads:
“Saving Justice and Peace embrace”! (Ps 84:10)
The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something very important to tell us! The second reading tells us of Saint “Paul’s love for Israel”! (CSB)
In the second reading, Saint Paul said something very shocking, but it showed his love for Israel! He said that he was willing to be condemned, to be cut off from Jesus Christ and to be sent to hell, if it helped the people of Israel to be saved and to go to heaven! Indeed, in Romans, Chapter 11, Paul believes that at the end of time, even the Jews who crucified Jesus will be saved!
We must have the same love for the world! We must be ready to say with Paul that if we have to be condemned and cut off from Jesus Christ and go to hell, in order to save the world, then let it be so! We must proclaim the good news so that the world may believe and be saved!
Today we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ who brings us peace, shalom, salvation! And we ask God our Father to help us to repent and be renewed so that we will experience the peace, shalom, salvation of the Lord! We also thank God for Saint Paul and we ask God to help us love the world as Paul loved Israel, so that we will proclaim the good news and so that the world may believe and be saved! Amen!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.