Last time we discussed a shock-and-awe-some sign: like ancient patriarchs, the three apostles were afraid and prostrated themselves to the ground when they heard the voice from heaven, the voice of God; yet initially, faced with the glistening cloud from God, Peter seemed quite excited by the experience, surprisingly confident and in the zone, since he proposed to stay, enjoy the moment, make it last, make three tents.
Peter’s exuberance is also found in the Gospel read on this particular Sunday: after initially being taken aback and even scared by the arrival of Jesus who was walking on water, he took the initiative and asked to be able to do the same; he was in fact, but then he began to sink, victim of his doubts.
Let’s just quickly pause to contemplate this before moving on: how easily and often we can find ourselves in the soaking shoes of this Peter: generous, over the top enthusiastic, but also fickle, weak in the moment of hardship…
This time we read about Elijah, of the way he experiences his encounter with God: he doesn’t find the Lord in sensational manifestations such as a fire or an earthquake, but he covers his face, to signify his sacred fear of God, when he feels a light breeze.
Yet it is clear that, through the internal logic of the story, even those powerful signs would be part of the plan, and therefore of the action, of God himself. Elijah knows how to recognize him, but sees, indeed feels that his encounter with God was to be mediated by a gesture of gracious majesty, discreetly hiding in small things.
That’s when he gets his cue and feels the need to show respect; for a simple breeze!
God knows how to communicate depending on circumstances, sometimes manifesting himself strong and impetuous, but for those who strike the right attitude and would tribute him appropriate reverence regardless of the circumstances, he enjoys gently shoing his sweet side, introducing himself through a caress.
This piece is better appreciated if read the way it was presented in the liturgy, by leaving some parts out: out of context, focusing the spotlight on the meeting between man and God, without distractions.
That’s because it is beautiful. Significant.
The context, however: Elijah is running away since they want to kill him; sees the world around him dominated by disorder, violence and infidelity. Persecuted, alone, he takes refuge in a cave.
He lost everything else, he only has God. And here comes a sweet sign for him.
Tell me you’re a father without telling me you’re a father
Do I need to add anything?
Jesus introduces a new, more direct relationship with God the Father…
First of all, being his son in the proper sense, of course. But also introducing the idea that God is, literally, Our Father: a revelation of love.
Yet if on the one hand all this familiarity with God could have appeared obscene to a Pharisee, well… This episode with Elijah is one of those revealing details, hinting at the fact that this peculiar revelation was in the cards, indeed slowly being introduced for some time.
God is already the father of Israel, in many ways and through a number of clues peppering the Old Testament, before it is properly declared for his people and extended to all peoples.
Here we may begin to appreciate how it is precisely fatherhood the most constructive and meaningful representation for a God who is love. His inevitable, true mental image.
Power that knows when to hold back; someone who encourages you to grow up, punishes when necessary, loves you and can show his tender side.
Whatever the shrieking radical feminists and any of their wannabe partners/allies may say, there is a remarkable value in this model, which is splendidly asymmetrical.
We learn to respect the God-Dad (!) and to treasure perpetuating, to the best of our abilities, a healthy model of fatherhood, of virility, of responsible strength.