When I first began to wander into the historic Church, one of the things I had to get used to was a lectionary. For my self sufficient, individualistic Protestant mindset, I was sure I didn’t need anyone to tell me what I should be reading from the Bible and when. But then I began to pay attention to the readings and I saw something amazing.
I began to see the Bible as a whole. Now yes, I had known that for awhile but we get lost sometimes I think in our “Bible reading plan.” We forget that the Old Testament and the New Testament are two sides to the same coin. I believe it was St. Augustine who said,
“The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.”
If we view this from a Christological standpoint (as we should when we come to ALL of Holy Scripture), then one could say that, in the OT we see Christ concealed or foreshadowed and in the NT we see Christ revealed.
I find such great richness in reading Holy Scripture this way, seeing it all as one organic whole.
Today’s readings for Mass illustrated this perfectly. The Old Testament lesson (reading) is from 1 Kings 19:9-13. I want us to consider verses 9 through the end of the chapter. You can go and read that now before proceeding. Elijah has just hiked for 40 days and nights to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God.
The place is super important in the Bible. This is the mountain where the law was given to the people of God who had just left slavery in Egypt. This is the mountain where God had revealed Himself to both Moses and the people of Israel. This is where Elijah has come. And why has he come?
He came to complain.
Look at the text. God asks Elijah what he’s doing there. Elijah replies by complaining. He basically says, “Look, I’ve been faithful. I’ve done what you asked me to do. But everyone else has abandoned you, no one worships you anymore. I’m the only one left and they want to kill me.”
And what does God say? He says, “Go out and stand on the mountain.” So Elijah does. The Scripture tells that a strong wind tore the mountain, breaking rocks before the Lord. An earthquake shook the mountain and fire scorched everything in sight. But the Lord was not in the wind or the quake or the fire. Then Elijah hears a whisper, a still small voice and he recognizes that Voice. He wraps his face in his cloak and goes out to hear what God will say.
Now, let’s skip to the gospel reading for the day. St. Matthew’s gospel, chapter 14, verses 22-33. Go and read that before proceeding.
Jesus was also on a mountain, but praying, not complaining. When He comes down, the boat that His disciples took is a long way from shore and a wind has come up. Sound familiar?
So Jesus saunters up the boat…on the water. And, rightly so, the disciples are terrified. But, Jesus speaks. He speaks over the wind, telling them not to be afraid and assuring them that it is He. Then something really crazy happens. Peter says, in essence, “Jesus, I want you to prove that it’s you and I’m not seeing things. If it’s you, command me to come out to you on the water.”
In my mind, when I close my eyes and put myself there, I believe Jesus whispered. I believe His voice was so soft, so quiet in the chaos of the moment, with the wind howling and waves crashing. But Peter heard Him. Peter heard the whisper and he knew that voice.
That was the voice of God-in-the-flesh. That was the voice of One who walked on water, that was the voice of the One who had healed the sick and cleansed the lepers. That was the voice that Peter would follow forever.
So Peter steps out and walks on water. But it didn’t take long for Peter to fear. It didn’t take long for what was going on around Peter to distract him, to cause his faith to waver.
Elijah had the same problem. Elijah was discouraged and afraid. Elijah was distracted by the faithlessness of the people around him and it caused his faith to waver.
But here’s where we have hope.
That voice still speaks. That still, small whisper that spoke to Eiljah still speaks. If you read the rest of the chapter, God tells Elijah that there are thousands more like him, thousands more who are faithful.
That voice still speaks. That calm, still voice still beckons Peter from the boat and tells him not to be afraid. ‘Don’t be distracted. Don’t be dismayed. Don’t be faithless.’
All of Holy Scripture, all of life is about Jesus, the Christ of God. God-in-the-flesh has come. He still speaks to us, even when our faith is weak. He still speaks amidst the chaos of our world; not in the crashing of the wind and rocks tearing up around us, nor in the fire that seems to burn our very world away, nor in the crashing waves or rushing winds of the storm. He still speaks in that still, small voice, beckoning us to follow, be faithful, step out and fear not. When we are faithless, He is faithful.
He is faithful.
He is faithful.
Amen and amen!
We are living in perilous and strange times in America. I cannot remember a time like this during my lifetime. Granted, I’m not that old but I’m closing in on 50 and this is the weirdest I’ve seen things.
I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what is going on in this country. It feels like the collective intellect of our society has vanished. We have somehow lost the ability to think critically for ourselves. Our freedoms are being eroded daily and, as a society at large, we are not only laying down for this nonsense, but we seem to be embracing it.
Let me give you two examples.
There is no more freedom of speech. I really don’t care what you say to me; I see this every day and so do you. Oh, you may not want to admit it to yourself, but you no longer enjoy freedom of speech. Case in point, this infamous video posted over the last few days by Breitbart. It’s been shared all over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all kinds of social media (for the record, I’m not a fan of Breitbart, nor am I republican or democrat).
And it was promptly removed by said social media platforms tout de suite.
Why is that? Have you asked yourself that?
Let me just quickly say this. My whole family took chloroquine as a prophylactic against malaria and various other diseases during the time we lived on the African continent during the mid-80s and early 90s. None of us had any problems with it. When administered properly, it seemed then and seems quite safe now. I know other missionary personnel who took it and have reported slightly different things and that’s okay. I’m just speaking for myself. It was a medication that was well tolerated by me and my family.
But I’m not here to talk about hydroxychloroquine. I mean, don’t get me wrong; if it will stop the spread of COVID-19, then I say give it out freely!
But what I’m concerned about in all this is this little thing called free speech. To live in a free society, people should be allowed to say whatever they damn well please. Let me say that again for all the people in the back and the fascists out there, both left and right.
To live in a free society, you should be free to say whatever you like.
That doesn’t mean that everyone must like it or agree with it or listen to it. In fact, one could say that if someone doesn’t disagree or dislike it, it’s probably not free speech. Our opinions on various topics may be very different. We may have people among us who even say mean and hateful things.
But again I say, to live in a free society, you should be free to say whatever you like.
It really doesn’t matter if it is offensive or foul or even true. It only matters, in a free society, that you are free to say whatever you like. If we are not free to say whatever we like, we are not free. So, to go back to your example; if you disagree with those doctors, okay. Great; feel free to ignore them. If you agree with those doctors, okay. Great; feel free to share their message.
The point is freedom of speech. Why censor someone’s opinion? Let them speak and let the people decide what they want to believe.
My second example is this whole mask wearing thing. Now I know that, as soon as I said that, some of you were triggered and now you’re gonna be all mad and rage at me. This only proves my first point. You are free to keep reading or you are free to stop reading. You are free to agree with me or you are free to disagree with me.
I really don’t care one way or the other.
Okay, back to the mask issue. Americans have been told various things regarding the efficacy of masks. Depending on whom it is that you listen to will largely determine where you fall on this issue. I really don’t care.
Wear a mask. Don’t wear a mask. You do you.
Here’s my point. You should be free; we should be free to make our own decisions. Here’s a simple proposal for all the government officials that have overstepped the boundaries. Why don’t you just present all sides, ALL sides, of the arguments for and against mask wearing? Once you’ve done that, I’d love for you to do something radical.
Let the people decide for themselves.
We’re really not stupid, ya know. Well, some of us are but I digress…
We desire freedom and well we should.
We should be free to speak and be heard and ignored if that is what is chosen.
We should be free to decide for ourselves issues that involve our own health.
We don’t need some dude in a suit in Washington or, in my case, in Indianapolis, to tell us how to best care for our health. We certainly don’t need some kid who runs a social media platform telling us what types of media we can and cannot consume.
We should be free.
It’s called the Constitution. Google it. Or don’t.
You are free to choose.
Or at least, you should be.