The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: August 9, 2020
ACTS OF GOD (1 Kings 19:9a, 11–13a)
There is a legal term for a natural disaster. It is called an “act of God.” It is a little unfair to libel God with deeds of destruction. Even so, when the forces of nature reveal their strength, people become aware of their own weaknesses and meditate on the power of God.
But when people go in search of God, they rarely go to the place of an earthquake, a fire, or a tornado. They go to a quiet place. They watch the sunrise. They pick a wayside chapel. They sit by the ocean. They find God’s majestic voice in whispers of peace.
When Elijah fled the grasp of the angry and murderous Jezebel, he eventually found himself in a cave on the mountain of God, Horeb. There he witnessed God passing by. Not in the strong wind, not in the earthquake, not in the fire did Elijah behold God’s presence—but in a tiny whispering sound.
Noise surrounds much of our day. The radio or television breaks the morning silence. Ambient music filters through elevators and grocery stores. Our cars cannot block out the cacophony of traffic.
It may not take an act of God for us to be able to find God. It may just take a quiet space.
RELATIVE FAITH (Romans 9:1–5)
When someone you love is in trouble, you desire their freedom so strongly that you might say, “I would gladly trade places.” For example, parents looking at a sick child in a hospital bed would accept the sickness themselves if they could—if only it would free the child they love. Your love for the afflicted is stronger than the force that renders them helpless.
St. Paul felt this way about those not believing in Christ. He says to the Romans, “I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh.”
Paul’s own kindred had not all joined him in faith. Ironically, Jesus had the same kindred. To the Israelites belonged the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the law, the worship, and the promises. Christ was theirs also, according to the flesh. Paul regretted that his relatives did not all embrace Christ according to the Spirit. He loved these people so much that he was willing to trade places. He loved them more strongly than the forces of unbelief.
In our society many people have still not accepted Christ. They do not hear his voice in the Scriptures. They do not experience his love in the community. They do not lift their voices in prayer. They do not join him at table for the Eucharist. The pain we feel renews our conviction to proclaim Christ.
Reflections: Lectionary Bulletin Inserts: Reflections on the First and Second Readings, Year A © 2019 Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications. All rights reserved. Written by Paul Turner. Lectionary for Mass © 2001, CCD.