Harrowing of hell

by | Aug 5, 2014 | Formation, Reflections

Vincent EucharistNineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), August 10, 2014 – 1 Kgs 19, 9a. 11-13a; Rom 9, 1-5; Mt 14, 22-33

Accursed for the sake of my own people (Rom 9, 3)

God makes use of both the storm and the calm. What is important, regardless of the means used, is to get to know him intimately and to be faithful to his revelation.

On Sinai, thunder, lightning, thick clouds, fire, smoke and earthquake herald the epiphany of the supreme Lawgiver. He is the Lord of nature and history.

On the same mountain, God appears to the prophet Elijah. The one taking refuge in a cave is commanded to go out to stand before God for when he passes. There comes a very strong and violent wind, then an earthquake, and finally, fire. But God is not in them; Elijah senses the divine presence in a light silent sound.

Yes, God reveals himself to us in different ways and on many occasions to assure us of his close, compassionate and merciful presence. He makes it known to us who find ourselves alone and helpless (“I alone remain, and they seek to take my life”) that his mastery over all things is provident and efficacious whether accompanied or not by a display of power. He reassures us who are despairing and exhausted, so that we may have the courage to live up to our being his chosen ones.

It is not infrequent that we dishonor the Christian name. We are as capable as the descendants of Israel, favored with countless blessings, of paying back God’s goodness with unfaithfulness, of putting our traditions ahead of his words, of regarding ourselves better than others, of boasting of our works, forgetful of grace. We disregard the pure religion before God, turning our backs on our needy brothers and sisters, and even fostering oppression, intimidation and malicious speech, directed to immigrants, for example.

Moreover, we take part with so much delight in the hustle and bustle of the market that, without knowing it, we become more thieves than prayerful human beings, and we spin the teaching, “You cannot serve God and mammon.” We come close to falling into idolatry, almost putting our trust in money and betraying our vocation.

Steadfastness in our calling supposes, according to St. Vincent de Paul, a life of interiority, openness to great and holy affections and ideals, not closeness (Coste XII:92-93). To be God’s and not our own means to imitate Jesus, prayerful, passionately consecrated to the evangelization of the poor.

That is to say, in order not to sink, in order to stay running in the Christian race, it is enough for us to keep our eyes fixed, not on the turbulence or the stillness, but on the one who endured the cross and is now seated at the Father’s right hand. He who became a curse for us gives his body up and sheds his blood for us so that we may do likewise and thus remain faithful to the end.

Ross Reyes Dizon



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