The prophet Elijah was a very courageous person. In his zeal for God and the purity of Israel’s religion, Elijah waged the war of faith on Mount Carmel, where he fought against the prophets of Baal, and exterminated them. God answered the prophet with fire which consumed his holocaust, thereby proving that Yahweh is the God of Israel, and so defended the purity of Israel’s religion. With Elijah’s sacrifice, God sent rain once more upon the land, to end the famine of more than three years. Afterwards, he now faced the wrath of a very formidable enemy, Jezebel the wife of King Ahab who sought his life. For this reason, Elijah was in flight. This made him to take shelter in a cave at the mountain of God, Horeb.
There, God revealed himself to Elijah. If he came there to meet with God, he would not be disappointed. God challenged him to come out of the cave to meet him. Elijah heard a strong wind, and saw the terrible effects of it, for it rent the mountains and tore the rocks. He felt the shock of an earthquake. He saw an eruption of fire, (1 Kings 19:12). These were to usher in the designed manifestation of the divine glory. At last he perceived a still small voice, in which the Lord was, that is, by which he spoke to him. In his experience, God was not experienced in the wind, or the earthquake, or the fire. Those struck an awe upon him, awakened his attention, and inspired humility and reverence; God chose to make known his mind to him in soft whispering sound, but not in those dreadful sounds.
When he perceived this, he wrapped his face in his mantle, as one afraid to look upon the glory of God, and apprehensive that it would dazzle his eyes and overcome him, Elijah hid his face in token of shame for having been such a coward as to flee from his duty, when he had such a God of power to stand by him in it. The wind, and earthquake, and fire, did not make him cover his face, but the still voice did. Gracious souls are more affected by the tender mercies of the Lord than by his terrors. He stood at the entrance of the cave, ready to hear what God had to say to him.
The experience of Elijah is also our own experience today. Faced with so many difficulties of life, we tend to forget the greatness of God who has called us to do great things for him. We cut and run, we forget that he is with us. Like discouraged soldiers, who leave their places of assignment and run away, we too, become discouraged and run away. St. Augustine had the same experience. In his confession he expresses it: “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my un-loveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.”
In our gospel reading today, through the apostles, Our Lord Jesus Christ assures us and reassures us that he is with us in all circumstances. Each of us is called like the apostles, to be in the boat with Jesus, as we make the sea journeys of this life, battered by the trials and challenges of this life. For us to arrive safely at the other shore, we have to put our trust in Jesus and surrender ourselves, our lives and our destiny into his hands. He will always feed us with himself. Just as he did with the disciples in our gospel reading today (Matthew 14:22-33), so does he continue to do with us, and for us in his holy church. As our great intercessor, he prays for us, and offers himself to the Father that we might be consecrated. He teaches us the acts of faith. He calms our fears and tells us not to be afraid. That is why he allowed Peter to walk with him on the sea, and prevented him from being drowned. In this way, he wants us to follow him like Peter, with full faith, trust and confidence.
Let us, therefore, continue to make the journey of faith with Peter and the apostles, as we make our earthly pilgrimage, through the trials, storms and challenges of this life, until we reach our true home in heaven. Let our life goal be to experience Jesus with the disciples who followed him all through. In this way, as St. Paul tells us today, we will become new Israel and so, ours will be the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the law-giving, the worship, and the promises; ours will be the patriarchs, and from whom the Messiah came. Let us therefore see and know the great power and love, with which Our God upholds us.