Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

14.08. 2023 | Homily


The readings for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time are available HERE.

Some people wonder why God is so far away from them, especially when disaster strikes their family or their town or their country. Other people are convinced God is all around them, and they feel the presence of God every hour of every day. Which sort of person are you? Do you feel far away from God, or is God close to you all the time? There is no correct answer. I am simply asking where you think God is. Is God far away or is God here, now?

The Gospel we have heard today is the story which is depicted in one of our beautiful windows, the one on your right, a picture you will find in many churches throughout the Faroe Islands. This image comforts people who work at sea and the families who stay at home. There is a boat on the Lake where Jesus went to live when He left Nazareth. The people He went to live with were fishermen, Peter, Andrew, James, John and the others. He knew the Lake well and He understood how frightening it was to be on the Lake in a violent storm. He must have been with His friends in their boats many times, but this time He had sent them out without Him. They must have been very worried, because the wind was powerful. During the storm, they were people who would answer my question by saying they needed God’s help, but He must have seemed far away. Then Jesus arrived walking on the water, and they became even more scared, because now they thought a ghost had come to haunt them. They had not yet realised that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is God. But when Jesus came, He calmed the storm. Then they knew, and they “bowed down before Him and said, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God’”. You know this picture very well, but I want to suggest that it would be a good idea if we all come and look at it in silence for a few moments after Mass, so if you have a few minutes don’t go straight out, but come and kneel close to the picture and simply look and say the words the disciples in the boat said that night: ‘Truly, you are the Son of God’.

The first reading is also very powerful today. Elijah has come to the holy mountain called Horeb because he is looking for God. He is not sure where God is. A voice tells him to stand outside the cave in the presence of the Lord. But where is the Lord? A powerful wind comes, just like the one which frightened the disciples on the lake, but the Lord is not in the wind. He is not in the earthquake or the fire, either. In the end, Elijah realises the Lord is in a gentle breeze. The Lord does not come with noise or violence or fire; He does not create an earthquake in our lives. Just as Elijah did, we find the Lord in the quiet moments, in silence.

That is why it is good to make our church a quiet place. Don’t forget that there are other people looking for God when they come here. It is not just you. So to help them to find God, and to help yourself to find God, it is good to be silent, or very quiet, when you come into church, partly for your own sake, but also for the sake of other people. We can help each other to discover God by the way we behave when we come in here. Be silent so that you can hear God, and so that others can hear God, too.

Fr. Peter


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