The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe
Week XIX, Year A, 07 August 2011
1Kings 19:9,11-13 /// Romans 9:1-5 ///Matthew 14:22-33
“Fear is the path to the dark side.
Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.”
That was Master Jedi, Yoda, speaking to the child Anakin in the first prequel of the “Star Wars” trilogy “Phantom Menace”. And how true is Master Yoda that we suffer so much despite the aplenty of things around us simply because of our many fears!
Perhaps, the scarcity mentality we discussed last week is largely due to our many fears that sometimes cripple us and lead us to a life of darkness and suffering. Almost every day, we fear of so many things that prevent us from experiencing love and joy, mercy and forgiveness, friends and family, and most especially God. We fear almost everything like fear of being late and being reprimanded by our boss or teachers, fear of being robbed or losing our possessions and wealth, fear of losing a loved one, fear of being cheated or shortchanged or being duped, fear of dying, fear of the end of the world…you name it, and we have so many fears aside from the thousands of other phobias we are afflicted with.
Fear can be beneficial because it can harness the great potentials we have within; it pushes us to our limits and enables us to achieve many things that make us better persons once we overcome our fears. It is normal to have fears; the person who faces and tackles his fears is the brave one, the courageous one. On the other hand, the person who has no fear is a stupid one.
Today, Jesus Christ is asking us to boldly step out of our fears because He Himself had conquered every fear in the world: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” (Mt.14:27)
The word courage is from the Latin “cor” meaning “heart”; to take courage as Jesus had told His disciples while walking on water means to take it from our hearts, from within because that is where Jesus dwells in each one of us. That invitation of Jesus for us to “take courage and be not afraid” is a call for us all to cast away our fears because Jesus is with us in facing them. Allow yourself to be embraced by Jesus; listen to His voice from within you and be reassured of His love and presence, of His might and goodness.
One great temptation in our spiritual life is that we always fix God in a particular place or locality that we often believe like the disciples that Jesus must be up there in the mountain or in heaven merely watching over us. When Jesus walked on the water, the disciples could not believe it was Him because they knew they have left Him on the shore. We are like them, thinking Jesus is just there in the Blessed Sacrament or worst, He is the statue we have touched! We have entirely forgotten that Jesus is the “Emmanuel” prophesied by Isaiah, or “God-is-with-us”!
Last Sunday after our evening Mass, a 24 year-old man asked me if we could have a short conversation which dragged on for almost two hours. It was not even a conversation because I merely listened to the young man’s story who turned out to be afflicted with a tumor in his brain. After praying over him and his family, as I retired to my room and read today’s Gospel, I asked whether God could also be coming in disguises like our own fears and afflictions? Maybe….. because, sometimes God comes to us in the most unexpected circumstances, even where and when we least expected Him. I have learned that in this life that, ultimately, it is always and only God who has the final say on everything. And He could be in our fears like what Prophet Elijah experienced in the first reading.
Elijah was fleeing from the soldiers of the evil Queen Jezebel out to kill him. God told him to hide in Mount Horeb and to wait at the mouth of a cave for His coming. So many great things have happened like earthquake and fire but God was nowhere until, “After the fire, there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.” (1Kgs.19:12-13)
Let us not look for God in great and bombastic instances in our lives; He is often in the simplest ones just like our fears and darkness or storms that come into our lives. Yes, this is easier said than done but that’s the way it is: fears are like gifts which, sooner or later, we’ll have to open them and accept whatever may be inside for us. And the greatest surprise of it could be Jesus Christ Himself coming out from that gift!
That was the experience of St. Paul who was stricken with grief over his fellow Jews who refused to accept Jesus as the Christ. In a sense, St. Paul was also stricken with fears for his fellow Jews but he did not allow these to overcome him; instead, he faced them head on in the name of Jesus Christ that he ended up extolling the Jews as our spiritual brothers and sisters because it was to them that God first revealed Himself.
Today, Jesus may be revealing Himself to us in the darkness and storms of our lives, in the many fears that enslave and immobilize us. Let us step out in faith, no matter how small this may just like with St. Peter, so that we could experience the abundant life God has for us. Last week we have realized that from our littleness come the many leftovers when offered to God; today, Jesus asks us to step out from the darkness of fears to experience true freedom from suffering and freedom for life and fulfillment!
A courageous week ahead of everyone!
Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
St. John the Evangelist Parish
Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan