Where is God? – Fr Harold Parilla

Matthew 14:22-33, 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time


Among other things, the Readings for today invite us to reflect on the question, “Where is God?” This is an important question because in varying intensities, we all are in search of something, and that something is almost always no other than God Himself.

Where is God? Where do we find Him? In the First Reading we are told that contrary to expectations, Elijah did not find God in the strong wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire. Instead Elijah found God in “a tiny whispering sound”.

That God is present in the “tiny whispering sound” may be a reminder that He can be found in the seemingly ordinary things in our lives. God can reach out to us, and be experienced by us, through the people we encounter every day.

Whenever we meet a poor person, and we are in the position to be of some assistance but we hesitate for one reason or another, we notice how uncomfortable we become about not helping. The disquiet, or even guilt, may come from a deep sense that God is there present in the poor and the helpless. Wasn’t it Christ Himself who said that whatever we did to the least of our brothers and sisters we did it to Him? God is particularly present in those who are ordinary and powerless, in those whose voice can muster only a tiny whispering sound.

In the Second Reading, we hear about the frustration of St. Paul. He felt bad about his fellow Jews who refused to accept the person and the message of Jesus. But behind the frustration we are able to detect a deep love for and strong faith in God. St. Paul here seems to be telling us that God can manifest Himself and be present to us even in our disappointments. He is there reassuring us and providing us consolation. Our failed projects or unproductive endeavors therefore do not necessarily block our sight from seeing the Lord present in our lives.

Finally, in the Gospel we are given the story about Jesus walking on the sea amid the wind and the waves. It is in the midst of a storm that Jesus is experienced by Peter as an all-powerful savior.

This dramatic scene one stormy night responds to our question by saying that God is found as well in the turbulence of our lives. Sometimes it is during our darkest moments, those moments when we feel helpless before the enormity of our problems that God seems most palpable to us. As one missionary to Africa once said, “It was when I was most lonely that I felt closest to God”.

Where is God? Where do we find Him? The Readings for today tell us that God is found in the ordinary and the poor. He is there in our frustrations and disappointments. He is present even at the darkest moments of our lives.

I’d like to end with a story told by David Wolpe. Once there was a child who would stray off into the forest. At first his father, a rabbi, allowed him to stray but when it became a routine for the child, the father became worried. He wondered what his son was doing in the forest. Besides, the forest could be dangerous. One day, the father confronted the son, “Why do you go to the forest regularly?” The son responded, “I go to the forest in order to find God”. The father said, “I am happy that you are searching for God. But you should realize that God is present and the same everywhere.” The child answered, “I know that, Papa; but I am not present and the same everywhere”.

Where is God? Where do we find Him? May we be consoled by the reminder that He is constantly manifesting Himself to us. If we do not experience His presence in our lives, perhaps it is not really God who is absent but us. Perhaps it is our own hearts which are drifting elsewhere. In this mass, we pray for the grace of sensitivity to notice that God has been present and will always be accompanying us.

[Photo credits: Google]

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