All of our readings in today’s mass can be summed up in a single theme. Namely, how we genuine faith connects us with God. What is the nature of this connection? Why and how is it different from any other power of attachment? Elija finds God not in powerful voices and external spectacles but in ‘the sound of a gentle breeze’. Apostle Paul describes the soul’s union with Christ when our ‘conscience is in union with the Holy Spirit.’ In the Gospel, we saw Peter and Jesus walking on the water, amidst the waves of a heavy sea. The apostle is hold above the water by his faith in Jesus, when his soul is peaceful and doubtless, and rescued by him, when that faith wavers. Inner peace connects him to his Master.
What is your Isaiah-moment of faith? What are your moments of ‘the gentle breath’, what makes you aware of God’s presence? Or, what are those moments, when you are seeking him in the wrong place, in ‘noisy power’, ‘earthquake’ and ‘fire’? What is the strategy, we all have to develop individually, to feel God’s invisible love?
Just after the horrors of the Second World War, the Hungarian writer (silenced by the communists) focused on this hidden presence of God. Despite the different context, it is the same problem: how and where can we perceice God in a world which does not want to seek him? In his book, The Philosophy of Wine, he writes: ‘I decided to write a prayer book for the atheists… I am aware of the difficulty of my task… I know that I cannot utter the word “God”. I must speak of him by using all sorts of other names such as kiss, or intoxication, or cooked ham. I chose wine as the most important name.’ Hence the title of his book, of which opening motto is ‘after all, too will remain, God and the wine.’
What do you choose, from among the variety of your experiences ‘as the most important name’ for God?
Because we must choose a name. Everybody does. And the options are either to find God in the wrong or the right place. To illustrate the point, I have found another quote, this time from a political activist. (You know my opinion about them, they are grave-diggers of truth and peace in society, which peace and social cohesion is the precondition for seeking truth.) ‘When we need to roll out we are uniformed and we can take that energy to our communities. The reason why a lot of youths get into the gangs is because they see the strongest thing is the gangs – they look up to the power…We don’t want to negotiate, we don’t want to sing songs, we don’t bring signs to a gunfight. We are an eye-for-an-eye organisation… We are preparing the community to be able to defend itself from any attack.’
We Christians have a great responsibility and a call for discernment. Is God in the voice of power and aggression? This is not a poetical question for which the answer we can take to be granted. Peter’s sinking when losing Jesus out of focus shows this. Our disappearing in the ‘raging sea’ of our age is a real danger. Our times is buzzing with the fake messiahs. Their tempting voice is followed by aggression, violence and destruction. That’s the nature of evil; devil’s pottery with fragile lives.
That’s why it is so important to live consciously with Jesus, and spend our best hours of the day with him. We need to cry daily with Peter, ‘Lord, save me!’ And to this request, Jesus always says: ‘Come!’ Let us go, and seek Him in the right place, where he is. Let us be different, as we ought to be, in our response to the question, ‘where God can be found?’ In the sound of a gentle breeze, in the conscience in union with the Holy Spirit, in our courage to cling to Christ. So, in other words, what are the deeds which reveal God’s presence most? In our coming week.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..