Revelation. The word itself is a noun formed from the verb “to reveal,” and for Christians, the revelation is that Jesus is Lord. This is one of the most basic truths of Christian theology, yet for the average Christian (and for many non-Christians) the word revelation is not always understood. Putting grand theological ideas aside for the moment, revelation, simply stated, is the act of how God reveals himself to us. To help us understand this idea of revelation, we turn to our readings for this 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
Psalm: 85:9, 10, 11-12, 13-14
open with a reading from the 1st book of Kings. We enter the passage
with great prophet Elijah as he is seeking shelter in the sacred
mountain in the Sinai (mount Horeb). While in the cave God tells him to
stand outside, because the Lord will be passing by. A strong wind
comes, but that was not the Lord. An earthquake comes, but that was not
the Lord. Finally, Elijah hears a tiny whispering sound, grabs his
cloak, and stands ready. What does this tell us? That God reveals
himself in the most unexpected ways. Our expectation is to see God’s
power and glory in storms, earthquakes, and choirs of Heavenly hosts.
Instead, God often is found in the less obvious; A tiny whisper. A
feeling. Not always a grand gesture, but in an intimate, quite way.
God is as much present in the stillness as in the noise… and how he
chooses to reveal himself is as varied as there are individual souls.
Psalm takes this idea of revelation one step further. If we hear God,
we see his kindness and mercy. God proclaims peace and salvation… not
death and destruction. For those who “fear” him, that is, respect him,
love him, follow his covenant, salvation is theirs.
from Matthew is also a story of revelation. After having performed the
miracle of feeding the five thousand (which we normally hear on the 18th
Sunday of Ordinary Time), Jesus sends his disciples ahead in the boat
while he retires to the mountain for some prayer and peace. That
evening, while Jesus is alone on the mountain, the boat that the
disciples are in is getting tossed around by an angry sea. In seeing
their distress, Jesus walks out to help them… walking on the water. The
disciples think they’re seeing a ghost, but he calms their fears by
calling out to them and telling them to take courage… to not be afraid.
But Peter is hesitant, so he cries out, “Lord, if it is you, command me
to come to you on the water.” Jesus does, and Peter comes, but fear
soon overcomes his amazement and he begins to sink, whereupon Jesus
leads him back to the boat. Back in the boat, the waters calm, and the
disciples are amazed, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.” Up to
this point in the narrative the disciples have been traveling with Jesus
for a while now. They’ve heard him preaching and teaching. They’ve
witnessed his healings. Clearly they saw something in him to have
stayed with him this far, but now they are convinced. This is their
moment of revelation. Jesus is Lord, the Son of God.
out our readings for this week is our continued study of Paul’s letter
to the Romans. In this opening to the 9th chapter, Paul is lamenting
how his own people, the Israelites, can’t see Jesus for who he is: the
long awaited Christ. With all the prophecy, the Law, the Covenants,
from the patriarchs to the prophets all the way down through history,
Paul is willing to give up his own salvation if his people could see
Jesus for who he is. This just goes to show that even if all the signs
are right in front of us, we can still not see it. Paul’s own
revelation is one of the most powerful and transformative in Scripture,
yet even his own testimony isn’t enough for his own people.
God reveals himself to us is as much an individual experience as it is a
communal experience. As we join with others in faith and worship, we
can see the Holy Spirit at work, and seeing that Spirit at work can
reveal God to us. But it is also that personal calling, which isn’t
always instantaneous, isn’t always obvious. Sometimes the truth is
revealed on a stormy sea. Sometimes the truth is revealed in a tiny
whisper. Sometimes the truth is expressed to us from the most unlikely
of people or places. The key is keeping ourselves open to seeing it, to
hearing it, to feeling it, so when it makes itself known, we won't miss