Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Life is a blend of contrasts and opposites. Governments experience economic boom and depression. Families experience joy and sadness. People attend baptisms and funerals, weddings and divorce court hearings. Parents attend their children’s graduation and also witness their failures. People are successful today, and tomorrow experience failure in their jobs, in their marriages, in their relationships.
Many things leave us confused and disappointed mostly because they lead us away from the truth and from one another, and from God, who is the center of our existence. Many things bring us confusion and disappointment because we cling more to our will than to God’s. We say we trust God, but we cannot let go of the things that others would need.
In the Old Testament, Queen Jezebel, in her desire to satisfy the whim of her king to acquire Naboth’s property, killed him, and threatened to kill Elijah, so Elijah sought shelter in a cave and tried to seek God. He found God not in the big sound of the wind, nor in the shaking of an earthquake, nor in the roar of fire, but in the tiny whispering sound that soothed his heart and animated his hope in God. In the Gospel the disciples found the answer to their question about need, not in a big food factory, nor in truck loads of bread, but in sharing the little food they had and in the blessing of Jesus, for whatever is shared selflessly multiplies abundantly, and whatever is blessed by the Lord brings joy to the heart and life to people.
The readings today give us several considerations:
1. When Jesus sends disciples, He watches over them. He knows where they are, in fact, He goes before them. He never leaves his disciples groping in the dark or forever tossed by the waves of life. He comes in different ways: in people, events, insights and opportunities. These are not ghosts. They are God-sent.
2. In times of trouble, He always encourages His disciples: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” When everything seems hopeless and the waters of hopelessness seem to cover us, and we remain faithful to Him despite the difficulties, Jesus always comes and strengthens us in many ways: through our families, our friends, our work, our insights and those of others. We do not have to rise up in anger over discouragements and blame any misfortune on others. We only have to keep still, remain hopeful, and call, “Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation” (Responsorial Psalm), or simply “Lord, save me!” (Mt 14:30).
3. He bids His disciples to come to Him. People tend to look at difficulties and anxieties more than the blessings of life. When a person is hurt emotionally/psychologically, he tends to sulk and “baby” his hurt, forgetting that he is greater than his hurt. When a person is hurt socially, he tends to blame others and look for their weaknesses and those of society, and tries to justify himself by destroying the name of others. When a person is haunted by his guilt, he tries to cover up his faults by justifying his actions.
When evil besets us, as it always will, we cannot always seek God in the spectacular and fantastic events of life. We can find Him in the little things that we have, things that we can do and things that we can share with others. We have to see His presence in the daily events of life. We have to see Him in our families, in our prayers, in our participation in the celebration of the Eucharist, in our visits to the Blessed Sacrament, in our regular reading and praying of the Scriptures, in our humble help to the needy, and in just any simple awareness of the miracles of life. Then, through our fidelity, people will become aware of the presence of Jesus, and many will be fed with His Words and not lose hope, because Jesus comes to us amidst the troubles and difficulties in the world. And remember, amidst the many difficult situations that we find ourselves in, Jesus speaks out, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid” (Mt 14:27).
It is also in the same way that the priest proclaims to us before we receive Holy Communion:
Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.
As Peter asked the Lord to command him to come to the water, we can also humbly proclaim:
Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.