AN ENCOUNTER WITH GOD’S PRESENCE AND THE TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF FAITH
First Reading: Genesis 28:10-22
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 90(91):1-4,14-15
Gospel Reading: Matthew 9:18-26
In the vast expanse of our existence, we often find ourselves yearning for a profound encounter with the divine. Our souls thirst for a connection that transcends the boundaries of this earthly realm, a communion that can transform our lives and bring us closer to the presence of God. These are the sacred encounters that ignite a spark within our souls and awaken us to the transformative power of faith. Today, as we reflect on the liturgical readings, we are invited to reflect on the profound impact of encountering God’s presence and the remarkable transformative power unleashed through unwavering faith – a journey where the extraordinary converges with the ordinary, and the mundane becomes the sacred.
This transformative encounter is reflected in the First Reading (Genesis 28:10-22), where we witness Jacob, a man in search of purpose and direction, finding himself in a desolate place, resting his head upon a stone. Little did he know that this seemingly insignificant moment would become the threshold to an encounter with the divine. In his dream at Bethel, Jacob glimpses a ladder reaching from earth to heaven, and angels ascending and descending upon it. It is in this ethereal vision that he encounters God’s presence, receiving reassurance, blessing, and a reaffirmation of the covenant made with his ancestors. Jacob awakens with a newfound awareness, proclaiming the sacredness of the place and his recognition that God is truly present.
This encounter with God’s presence, depicted in Genesis, resonates with the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 90(91):1-4,14-15: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, and abides in the shade of the Almighty. Says to the Lord my Refuge, my stronghold my God in whom I trust…” It speaks to the deep longing within each of us to find refuge in the arms of the Divine—to dwell in a place where we are enveloped by the protective and transformative power of God’s love. It is in this shelter that we can find solace, strength, and the courage to face the trials and tribulations of life. As the Psalmist reminds us, those who trust in the Lord are granted the gift of deliverance, protection, and a profound sense of belonging.
And then, we turn our gaze to the Gospel Reading from Matthew (9:18-26), where we witness the intertwining stories of faith and healing resulting from an encounter with the divine. A desperate official falls at the feet of Jesus, beseeching Him to come and heal his daughter. In the midst of this urgent plea, a woman who had suffered for twelve years from a hemorrhage approaches Jesus, reaching out to touch the hem of His garment in faith, believing that she will be healed. Jesus, attuned to the power of her faith, acknowledges her and declares her healing. As Jesus continues to the official’s house, He restores life to the ruler’s daughter, illustrating the transformative power of faith in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Dear friends, these readings collectively emphasize the significance of encountering God’s presence and the transformative power of faith. They remind us that we are not alone in our journey, but rather, we are invited into a sacred dialogue with the Divine—a dialogue that has the potential to change our lives, heal our wounds, and bring about miraculous transformation. The encounter with God’s presence ignites a flame within us, awakening our spirits to the boundless possibilities that lie before us.
In our own lives, we are called to seek these transformative encounters—to open our hearts and minds to the presence of God, to trust in His promises, and to have unwavering faith in His power to bring about healing, restoration, and renewal. Like Jacob, we may find ourselves in desolate places, uncertain of the path ahead. But it is in these moments that we can look up, behold the ladder of divine connection, and climb toward the divine embrace. May these readings serve as a powerful reminder that encounters with God’s presence are not limited to the pages of scripture. They are woven into the fabric of our lives, waiting to be embraced and experienced. As we immerse ourselves in faith, we become conduits of God’s transformative power, vessels through which healing, love, and grace flow into the world.
Above all, let us heed the call to encounter God’s presence, to nurture the flame of faith within us, and to embrace the transformative power that awaits us. May we be forever changed by these encounters, and may our lives bear witness to the resplendent beauty that unfolds when we dare to believe in the extraordinary and surrender ourselves to the divine dance of encounter and transformation.
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© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Loreto, Vila Medeiros, São Paulo, Brazil
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