Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time- A
It was only a tiny whisper, we’re told, that made Elijah realize that he was standing square in the presence of God—just a little whisper amid driving winds, earthquakes, and infernos. None of the tremendous sounds and shakes drew the prophet from his shelter in the cave. Instead, the tiniest thing, a minute inclination surrounded by chaos, prompted the bold prophet to display such evident humility in hiding his face in his cloak.
Was it the same whisper that Peter heard from the boat? Even though buffeted by strong winds and high waves, one tiny word that gives Peter the courage to step outside — to step away from his shelter against the ferocious storm.
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Let me walk outside of the safety of this boat, even though the sea rages. Jesus says, “Come.” One simple word, calmly and softly pronounced by the Savior. One solitary word was heard over the raging noise of the waters and the driving wind.
Divine words convinced Peter and Elijah to step outside their shelters to meet God amidst the storm, to meet the One who has complete power even over the tempest. Even in their fright and fear, the two pivotal characters in scripture have faith to trust the Word of God. Something in the Word of God resonates deep within these two men.
The whisper is most often heard from within, not from outside. The Word doesn’t manifest itself like a mighty storm; it is often an almost imperceptible whisper engaging the conscience but not overpowering it. The Word is meant to communicate in the deepest recesses of existence and not through our ears. And this is why it holds such power over us – commanding us to do what looks foolish and impossible — walking on water and leaving our places of refuge to go beyond even if our senses are screaming for us to stop.
The whisper coaxes us out of our shanty where we might feel safe but ultimately leaves us in spiritual poverty. This is, after all, why Elijah was sent to the mountain in the first place. “He prayed for death: ‘Enough Lord! Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.’” God would have none of that, so he whispers to the prophet, expressing his love, hope, and life. God’s conversation with Elijah was not an isolated occurrence; it happens all the time, even to those who are not prophets or apostles. The Word comes to you and me every day; all we need to do is respond and have the faith to believe that the space we are in now isn’t as optimal as we first thought.
Isn’t this why Peter could walk on water? When he listened and believed, Peter began to share God’s life Jesus offered him. The marvel is not so much that the divine Jesus could walk on water; one can only expect that from God. But what is extraordinary is that Peter (and you and me) can do the same. We can walk through the raging waters of disappointment, discouragement, and disillusionment. We can do the same as Peter when hearts, minds, and souls are fixed on and receptive to the life of God offered through the person of Christ. We can care for another and forgive as God does.
Such an excellent gift; the sharing of what is divine with we who are human. Astonishingly, Elijah heard the whispering. Shockingly, Peter was coaxed from the boat. It is out of the ordinary when we can go through the storms of our life, remain whole, and even become better because of it when God bestows his life on us.
The Word is spoken to us within, like a whisper, and enlightens our conscience to act and move toward the life of God. The Word, more powerful than anything, can bring us out of our caves, bring light to our darkness, and even walk on water if only we trust and respond to the whisper of God.