The first reading is full of big noises: the noise of “the mighty wind, so strong that it tore the mountains and shattered the rocks” or the noise of “the earthquake,” or the noise of “the fire.” There was also a big noise in the heart and mind of the prophet Elijah. The prophet, like all prophets did, was carrying within himself the situation of his own people.
At that time those who were leading people astray dominated in the society. Their voices were so strong that even the earlier miracle Elijah performed, when he brought fire from heaven to prove his genuineness, didn’t work. It didn’t convince them.
Elijah was like a teacher who lost his plot in the midst of a noisy class. I am not sure what was louder in the scene we had in the first reading, whether the forces of nature around Elijah or the voices within him, still echoing what was happening in the society drifting away from their relationship with God. In the midst of those interior and exterior big noises God kept his voice down, “there came the sound of a gentle breeze.”
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! Though separated by some millennia we can empathize with Elijah. We are also surrounded by some big noises of theories, ideologies, etc. which can make us think that someone operates a very powerful surround sound system in this world stopping the voice of God to be heard. We may think that we cannot escape this noise which seems to fill up our heart, mind and soul.
My Dear Fellow believers! Do not feel sorry for yourself for having to live in such an environment. Do not think that our era is worse than the previous ones; instead turn to the Lord Jesus. The Gospel tells us of the Lord coming to his disciples in the midst of big noises too. The heavy sea combined with the disciples’ fear is a situation where it was hard to hear anything. Into such situation Jesus walked.
The men in the boat had just seen the feeding of thousands by Christ but in the midst of the frightening storm when they saw Christ approaching their boat they got frightened even more. In their religious tradition only God could walk on the water as it was written in the Book of Job: “He and no other stretched out the skies, and trampled the Sea’s tall waves.” However they didn’t expect God to come to them and that’s why they jumped into a conclusion that it was a ghost.
It is a part of life and faith journey which all of us go through. We get immersed in the waves of philosophies which poison our relationship with the Lord like pagan beliefs in ghosts poisoned the disciples’ relationship with Christ. Challenged by frightening circumstances they surfaced their hidden beliefs which were like that weed Jesus spoke of in one of his parables. That night on the lake the weed of believing in ghosts appeared plainly. They knew that as descendants of Abraham, patriarchs and prophets they weren’t to hold to such beliefs. On the stormy lake they realised that it took root in them. However Jesus didn’t give them a lecture to reprimand them for such a distortion. Instead he proved to be Emmanuel – God-with-us. He was with his disciples there. In the midst of those interior and exterior deafening noises Jesus was speaking to the men calmly like a teacher who doesn’t need to shout over a noisy class in order to be in control.
We also find ourselves overcome by the volume of the noise of theories and ideologies contradicting the Word of God. But as it happened before when God came to Elijah amidst of political, social, religious and naturals storms and when Jesus walked on the raging water to reach his disciples Jesus comes to us in this twenty first century too. He, our Emmanuel – our God-with-us, brings his divine wish to strengthen our faltering faith, our weakening relationship with him. The storms around us don’t need to drop. The storm on the lake didn’t drop during the conversation Jesus had with his Apostles either, it dropped at the end of the conversation. We, because of the grace of our Lord, can be attentive and responsive to his gentle voice in the midst of big noises surrounding us.