Gospel Reflection: Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

NINETEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

AUGUST 13, 2017 

ALLELUIA

I wait for the Lord;

my soul waits for his word.

ALLELUIA

 

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew 14:22-33

After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.   After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to prayWhen it was evening he was there alone

Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.   During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea.   When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.   “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear

At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”  Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”   He said, “Come.”   Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.   But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 

After they got into the boat, the wind died down.  Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”

The Gospel of the Lord

 

REFLECTION by Monsignor Joseph T. Marino

Many of you are aware that my favorite hobby is sailing.  I have a 1972 Pearson sailboat that I enjoy keeping in shape with my own up-dating additions.   But nothing beats hoisting the sails and setting out on a day’s worth of sailing.  But it is no fun finding yourself in a predicament like the disciples: the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.

The situation was complicated by sailing at night.   According to Roman calculations, the fourth watch of the night is between three and six o’clock in the morning.  In addition to these natural challenges, the disciples were met with a supernatural phenomena beyond their imaginations … he came toward them walking on the sea.

The frightful situation was compounded by their assumption that the one walking toward them on the water was a ghost, and rightly so they cried out in fear Fear is a normal reaction to frightening events.  Fear is a debilitating emotion!  Yet, we know too well that fear is not reserved only for situations like this.  The strong headwinds and rogue waves that accompany broken relationships, sickness and ultimately death frighten everyone.  And in the midst of a fearful crisis we so quickly and easily forget the presence of God and the power He demonstrates by healing fear and sickness as is recorded in today’s Gospel.

In the Bible, fear is the ultimate force that robs the peace of soul that faith provides.  This Gospel story dramatizes the battle in which we all find ourselves: the war between fear and doubt, and faith!

It can be frightening to change one’s way of living so as to walk more in the ways of Christ.  It can be frightening to take the risk of trusting that God will provide – to surrender one’s life into the hands of Jesus!

Yet, every disciple must come to learn through prayer and Christian living the fact that Jesus is always there: Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid!   Peter leads the way.  Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.  As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, he was safe.  However, when we are distracted by the struggles and forces around us: But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, began to sink – we are Peter!

Relying on the saving power of Jesus is a life-long exercise.  As we all age, and events we face change from day to day, this Gospel passage becomes more and more relevant, and its lesson of depending on Jesus proves to be more real and true!   The Gospel reveals the secret of survival on the sea and on land.  We must root ourselves in daily Gospel reading and praying so that we can more and more clearly see and believe that Jesus will: Immediately stretch out his hand to save me and you.

In fact, He did stretch out His hands on the cross and saved us!

What troubled-waters do you find yourself in … have you asked for the hand of Jesus? When you read and pray the Gospels, do you see and hear Jesus speaking directly to you: Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid!

Encountering the divine physician, Jesus Christ

Healing of the Paralytic (Luke 5: 17-26)

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