The first reading and the Gospel today are about trust. Is God worth trusting? When your life is threatened, where do you look?
Elijah came to the mountain because he was running for his life. He’d been threatened by a queen who meant to kill him, a queen who was perfectly capable of doing that. He goes out into the desert and he is commanded to go to this mountain to meet God. So he goes to the mountain and God tells him He will be passing by. But before God arrives, He sends some special effects to show what He is capable of. Can you imagine a wind that is strong enough to crush rock? That’s a lot of wind, an earthquake, a blazing fire. (Earth, wind and a fire, hmmm—shades of the 70’s??) But God is not to be confused with His special effects. It was only when he heard the sound of a gentle, whispering breeze that Elijah then covers his face and goes out on the mountain. And he covers his face because as a good Jewish prophet he knew you’re not supposed to look God in the face.
So he takes his cloak, covers his
face and goes out and God says to him, “Elijah, why are you here?” And Elijah says, “I am zealously zealous for
the Lord God of Hosts.” He then goes on
to mention that his life is in danger.
God gives him a series of commands, different things that he will
do. One of the things that must have
particularly struck Elijah was that he was commanded to appoint Elisha as his
successor. Usually prophets, kings, the
great leaders of
Elijah knew God well enough to trust Him with all his heart, but he was not shy about saying, “By the way, I’m in danger, by the way, they’re trying to kill me.” In other words, I trust you, now do something. Help me.
Peter gets out of the boat. This is an incredible thing. The
And Peter says, “If it is You, then ask me to come to You across the water.”—a very, very trusting thing to do. But it shows something about Peter’s heart. Peter loved to go wherever Jesus was. Later when Jesus is seen on the shore, Peter simply jumps out of the boat and swims to the shore. Not willing to wait until the boat makes it to the shore because his heart is to see Jesus. He wants Jesus. He wants to be where Jesus is. He wants everything that Jesus has to offer.
So he gets out of the boat. The first step was the hard one. Imagine, your foot’s going over the edge and you’re about to stand on water. This isn’t a typical event. Especially the first time. This is one of those miracles that was particularly hard because there was no precedent for this. There was precedent for splitting seas and splitting rivers, but walking along watching the water on both sides of you. But standing on the water – this was a first. And he takes that first step. After that it was easy. He kept taking second steps, third step, fourth step. The first step would be the hard one. Do you think he turned around and said, “Andrew, have a rope ready.”
And then he makes the mistake
that’s easy for all of us to make, he suddenly realizes what an amazing thing
this is: he is standing on the
That’s always the temptation. We’re surrounded by the storms all the time. Sometimes the calm in our life is only the eye of the hurricane. And the bottom line is if we take our eyes off of Jesus we will get blown away, we will go down. The only security, the only safety we have is to keep our gaze constantly fixed on Jesus Himself.
Peter loved Him. Peter wanted Him. Peter risked everything and ultimately gave
everything for Jesus. Peter after
Pentecost is a great spirit-filled evangelist who finally in
But the life that Jesus calls us to is not simply a good human life. The life Jesus calls us to is to be a Saint, living a life which by its nature is supernatural. We can’t do any of it without more of Him, which is why we constantly come here to receive Him. We come here to receive Him; we go to chapel to adore Him; we constantly spend time before Him, fixing our gaze on Him. If we want our lives to be what He has called us to be, to do that without Him is a flat out impossibility.
But if you look at the life of Elijah and you see what he was able to accomplish to build the kingdom—the miracles he did, the way he boldly proclaimed the truth in the face of great opposition, he didn’t have access to a fraction of the grace that we have. He had no Eucharist. He had no baptism, no confirmation, none of the sacramental grace that we live in. He had part of the Scriptures. He had almost no fellowship. You look at the gifts that we’ve been given, we should make Elijah look like he was standing still. If we don’t, maybe we need to consider just how much do we keep our gaze fixed on Jesus Himself and how much do we look to the world, the flesh and the devil instead? If we keep looking at Jesus, pleading with Him for His grace, He will give us the courage to stand and the courage to do the hardest thing, which is to take that first step out of the boat. Let us plead with Jesus today that we would open our hearts more deeply to the wonder of His presence and that we would commit ourselves even more to disregarding the storm and keeping our gaze fixed on Jesus.