People are always looking for big signs from God to know that he’s there or that their prayers will be answered—just ask Elijah and Peter! But this Sunday we hear that God reveals himself in small ways, in tiny whispers, so that like God said last week, we need to quiet down, tune in, and listen carefully.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
1 Kings 19:9A, 11-13A
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.
Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie; my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart.
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
Listening is a skill, and one that God really wants us to develop. When God told Elijah to go to a cave and wait for God, Elijah waited for a sign that God was there. Thunder, lightening, earthquakes, fire—that was all powerful stuff, and certainly God made all of it–but when God wants to speak to Elijah, God is a tiny whisper.
Paul tells us that he’s in constant anguish about his people not accepting Jesus as God. He wishes the Jewish people would believe, and feels that if they would listen to what God had said through the prophets that they would realize that Jesus was the fulfillment of their prophecies.
Jesus sends the Apostles in a boat to go wait for him while he spent some time alone, praying. When he went to join them, a few miles off the shore, they were in the middle of a storm and very much afraid. At first, they think he’s a ghost, then when Jesus tells them not to be afraid, and that it’s just him, Peter wants proof. He wants a sign—and not just any sign! He wants Jesus to make him walk on water, too. And Jesus just goes for it. He invites Peter out, and as soon as Peter realizes what he’s doing and how rough the water is, he panics and starts to sink. If he had listened to the quiet of Jesus’ presence in the middle of the storm and just focused on that, he would have been fine. But, he let the chaos overtake him. Jesus tells Peter that he would have been fine if he had trusted Jesus, stops the storm, and gets Peter back in the boat.
How good are you at being quiet? If you have trouble with it, take a few minutes to try and sit quietly. In your quiet time, ask God to help you listen better.
Water was a symbol of chaos for the Jewish people in the ancient world. The water that we use in Baptism is a sign of God’s power over sin, death, and the chaos of life. Knowing that you became a follower of Jesus in Baptism, how can you train your ears to hear Jesus’ calm, quiet voice when you’re in a time of chaos?
Can you think of a time that you felt Jesus calling you to “walk on water”–to do something that you thought was impossible, that required you to trust him? Did you sink, or did you walk? How did you handle the storm around you? How do you handle the storms in your life daily?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”