Page 6, 11th August 1978

11th August 1978
Page 6
Page 6, 11th August 1978 — Scripture Notebook
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Scripture Notebook

Wansbrough OSB

Nineteenth ordinary Sunday of the year

Lovely image of the Lord

I Kings 19: A Gentle Breeze

There are two different interpretations of the lovely image of the Lord in the gentle breeze. Certainly this image stands in deliberate relation to Moses' experience of the Lord: Moses sheltered in the cleft of the rock and the Lord passed by, showing his glory and proclaiming that he was a God of mercy and forgiveness.

Are we to understand the image as a demonstration that now God is U God of mercy and forgiveness, and works His will in quiet and gentle ways? But after the vision Elijah receives the message that there will be mass destruction of the idolaters in Israel.

Or is it that Elijah is being shown that with his chosen ones God has no need of earth-shattering external exhibitions of power, but comes in the gentleness of silence?

Storm, earthquake and fire are in the Old Testament such that it is hard to think that they are here rejected as symbols. It must be some personal contract for Elijah's sake: storm, earthquake and fire are indeed for some ways of God making His presence known, but to those who will listen the gentle breeze is enough, refreshing and enlivening in the sultry desert.

(1 Kings 19: 11-13) Romans 9: The Mystery of Israel

Paul's letter to the Romans has shown how salvation in Christ is the true fulfilment of the promises to Abraham which were the foundation of Judaism. He now comes to the agonising problem which is clearly close to his heart and has been torturing him: how is it that his own people have rejected this fulfilment'?

This is a question which has exercisea Lnristians over toe centuries, and some of the answers given have been the cause of outbreaks of violent anti-semitism, or at least the cloak for such actions.

Over centuries they were chosen and prepared with loving care for the coming of the Messiah — "a people most dear to him" as the Second Vatican Council states — and yet they failed to recognise his coining.

Paul's answer is threefold. First, we have no right to interrogate God, for His choice is free and sovereign: "The pot has no right to say to the potter: 'Why did you make me this shape?'" It remains a mystery, often an agonising one, why some respond and some fail to respond to the opportunities God gives.

Paul's second answer, that it was foretold in Scripture, is perhaps of less interest than the final answer: the failure of the Jews has opened the door to the Gentiles. This is expressed by the image of grafting: the olive tree of Israel is cut back so that the wild olive, which is the Gentiles, can be grafted onto the stock.

But in the end, in God's good time, the original branches too will be grafted back on. For God never rejects those whom He has chosen, and it is inconceivable that He should cease to care for the people on whom He had lavished so much.

(Rom 9: 1-5)

Matthew 14: Pstis on the Lake

The fear and awe which this scene arouses can be understood only through its Old Testament background. It is God alone who controls the elements, and particularly the sea. The sea is thought of as a frightening and potentially evil force which might engulf the land, were it not held back and dominated by God.

So when Jesus comes walking over the water it immediately suggests the divine, and it is in fact on this occasion in Matthew that Jesus is first addressed by men as "Son of God". The image of Jesus drawing Peter from the waves becomes in Christian iconography a type of -Jesus rescuing his disciples from the waters ol death.

(Mt 14: 2233)




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