From the Desk of Fr. Tony...
Fr. Tony Stubeda
Father Tony Stubeda
Overcoming Fear with Vision
As a child I found loud storms to be frightening. Having grown up watching The Wizard of Oz, I worried about being swept up in a tornado and being whisked away from home. My bedroom was on the second floor of the house, and I would worry that my parents, whose bedroom was on the first floor, had taken shelter in the basement and forgotten to call me to join them in safety. When a particularly noisy, windy and frightening storm would come upon us, I would try to stay put in bed as long as I could. My mind would tell me that my parents wouldnít forget me, but my faint heart would often get the better of me. I would go as quietly as I could to the bottom of the steps and look into my parentsí bedroom. If they were there sound asleep, I would go quietly back to bed, and struggle in silence with my fears. Needless to say, I never found them in the basement. They were always sound asleep as if nothing was happening. Todayís readings present us with a more serious version of my childhood dilemma. What is it that we should pay attention to in a very noisy and demanding world?
Elijah has fled in fear for his life, and arrives at the mountain of God in Horeb. Panting with the fear of his flight and seeking Godís reassurance, he climbs the mountain, and God says he will come and reveal himself to Elijah. As Elijah waits a great wind batters the mountain. The great wind is followed by a tremendous earthquake, and on the heels of the earthquake comes a conflagration that engulfs the mountain. Before these impressively powerful and frightening events, Elijah remains calmly hidden in a cave. After the noise, the landslides and fire Elijah hears a small whispering wind, and in this barely audible, gentle whisper he hears the voice of God and prepares to meet him. Having been beset with royal power, the rejection of his own people and the threat of imminent death, and having witnessed the majesty and violence of nature in its assault on his refuge, Elijah encounters his refuge and assurance in the gentle power of God himself. It is in a gentle whisper that God appears in his glory and compassion. In the Gospel Peterís great fear at the storm in the boat is calmed when he sees the Lord. His first instinct is to run to the Lord. Jesus invites him to come, and Peter begins his journey across the stormy sea. His fear overcomes his faith and he takes his gaze off of Jesus and the safe haven he offers, and overwhelmed by his own fear he begins to sink.
Like Elijah and Peter we live in a sometimes noisy and intimidating world. We are called to look beyond the seeming power of the world, to fix our hope on Jesus and to trust in his power to save. The winds of chaos might blow, the ground might shift beneath our feet and the fires of discontent might rage around us, but as long as we fix our hearts, our hopes and our lives on Jesus, we will remain calm and safe in the saving power of God.