19th Sunday of year A
God will locate you in your troubles
1. ✠ A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (14:22-33)
Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he would send the crowds away. After sending the crowds away he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, while the boat, by now far out on the lake, was battling with a heavy sea, for there was a head-wind. In the fourth watch of the night he went towards them, walking on the lake, and when the disciples saw him walking on the lake they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost’ they said, and cried out in fear. But at once Jesus called out to them, saying, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ It was Peter who answered. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water.’ ‘Come’ said Jesus. Then Peter got out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus across the water, but as soon as he felt the force of the wind, he took fright and began to sink. ‘Lord! Save me!’ he cried. Jesus put out his hand at once and held him. ‘Man of little faith,’ he said ‘why did you doubt?’ And as they got into the boat the wind dropped. The men in the boat bowed down before him and said, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’
2. Today’s readings focus on God’s initiative to secure those in difficulties. The first reading from
1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-13a is on ending part of the flight of Prophet Elijah to Horeb. Elijah in his zeal to defend God and his law killed 400 prophets of Baal believed to have misled the people of Israel from the worship of the true God. This massacre attracted the wrath of Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab, who introduced the worship of Baal in the land. She vowed to destroy Elijah. Elijah was distressed and afraid and on the point of giving up his mission. He told God to take his life. Instead of taking his life, God led him to a greater encounter at Horeb. From the reading, one sees that God is not found in violence. He is neither in the violent storm, earthquake nor in fire. He is to be found in cool gentle breeze. This encounter, an initiative of God invigorated the prophet to continue with his mission. God located him in his time of distress.
3. The gospel from the 14th chapter of Matthew shows Jesus coming to the aid of those in distress. When he heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew from the city. But people followed him. He saw their difficulties, he healed the sick, taught the people and then multiplied loaves to feed them and sent them home satisfied. He then went to lonely place to pray. While in prayer he noticed that his disciples were in danger in the sea because of the storm. He located them and went to them, walking on the waters. This was rather a strange manner of coming to someone’s aid because the disciples instead beaming with joy rather cried out, believing him to be a ghost.
4. The arrival of Jesus walking on the waters provoked another drama. He assured the disciples that he was not a ghost. At this the over zealous Peter asked to be invited to walk on the water too. This difficult situation became an opportunity for him to try a new thing. He left the boat and walked on the waters. However, when he saw the wind he became afraid and began to sink. He concentrated on the problem instead of concentrating on Jesus who invited him to walk on the water. He then prayed to Jesus to deliver him and his prayer was heard.
5. The message of the readings is clear: God takes the initiative to deliver his people from their terrors especialky when they are about to give up. This has some implications for our christian life.
a. God can bring his help in a strange manner:
The coming of Jesus, walking on water made him look like a ghost when he was only coming as a friend and helper. God is free to bring us help in any way that he chooses. In moment of troubles we should be open to recognize God in an unusual persons or phenomenon. He can come in a way that is beyond our imagination.
b. Difficulties may be God’s way of leading one to try something new:
Peter would never have imagined that he could walk on water but he did when he saw Jesus coming like a ghost. It is wrong to become prisoner to problems of life in a such a way as to stop taking new risks. Life can only be lived fully when one is forever trying new things. Problems should become stimulants to new initiatives that may sometimes seem as stupid as wanting to walk on waters. Faith involves not walking by sight alone but also by trust in the caring love of God.
c. God answers distress calls:
In times of taking new steps in faith, one should know that the wind will always be there to distract attention and can even lead to doubts and fears. In such moment, one should not forget that Jesus is always ready to stretch out his hand to lift one up. Such moments call for honest and sincere cry to God in prayer as Peter did.
6. You know that you have a God who cares. You too should be like the God that you serve. Like Jesus, learn to anticipate the problems of those close to you and walk to them to bring them help. Like St. Paul in the second reading (Rom 9:1-5), make the wellbeing of your loved ones a priority, a mission. ©Vita, 13/08/23