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8/6/2014 10:05:00 AM
We Find Him in the Silence

Mary Jo Tully
Chancellor, Archdiocese of Portland

August 10, 2014
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a
Romans 9:1-5
Matthew 14:22-33

If we measured our troubles in decibels they would seem very loud. Our lives are too often filled with noise, busyness, and worries. The quiet presence of God in our lives goes unnoticed. Perhaps that is the reason that we expect God’s response to our woes to be as loud as our troubles. We can easily imagine Elijah finding the Lord in the strong wind or the earthquake or the fire. We are as surprised as Elijah to find the Lord in a tiny whispering sound.  

The Gospel tells a similar tale. After the feeding of the multitude, Jesus sent his disciples away. Jesus went up the mountain to pray and his disciples started out across the lake. After a bit, a storm arose and Jesus began to walk around to the other side of lake. The storm grew fierce and as the disciples struggled to keep the boat upright, Jesus came toward them. When the disciples saw him, they did not recognize him. They certainly did not expect to see him walking on the water and recognized him only when the winds calmed. Peter recognized the Lord only as he held out the hand of salvation.

Through the ages, believers have learned that Christ does not relate to the Church in a series of dramatic exits and entrances. Instead, he is with us always. For the most part, he shows himself to us in the happenings of everyday life. We hear God’s voice in the proclamation of the Scripture, in the whisper of the lover, in the lisp of the little child. We know that he is present at the moment of the sunrise, in the darkness of the night, in the moment by moment progression of the day.

 We might call loudly for God’s help only to learn that he is already with us. We don’t need to chase him. We need only take a deep breath and discover God in our midst. It is not because of our great sense of composure that we are able to handle the upsets of life. It is because of what we know of God.

If it is God’s way that he should be found in gentle words and gestures and discovered in whispered words of concern and caring, those are the ways that we seek to show him to the world. As Christians, we speak Christ’s words. Our gestures should mirror his.

At this celebration, we experience the presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. We recognize him in the breaking of the bread and know him in the community we call the Church. We are challenged to bring this abiding sense of the presence of God to the rest of the world.

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