19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
9th August 2020
Year A – Psalter week 3
Walking on Water.
There has been in the past some me debate among theologians as to whether this account of Jesus walking on water occurred in his ministry prior to the resurrection, or whether it is a post-resurrection appearance. For some, it seems fanciful that Jesus walked across a tempestuous sea during his earthly ministry. However, when one considers that all things were created from nothing in and through the Word of God, I see no reason as to why Jesus, the Word become flesh, would not be able to perform the relatively simple task in comparison, of walking on water. God is, after all, the author of the laws of nature, so He has command over them rather than the other way round. In fact, in the Old Testament, authority over creation was accredited to God alone, so Jesus’ command over nature is seen as an authentic sign of his divinity.
In Matthew’s account of this miracle, the boat represents the Church, and the storm is the persecution through which his Christian community was passing. The call for his church community, then, as for ours, is to trust in the power of Jesus over all events in life, to keep our gaze fixed upon him, and to place our faith and trust in him. Even when we feel that our faith is weak and we are afraid, all we need to do is to call upon Jesus as Peter did, and the Lord will stretch out his hand to us, and bring us to a place of safety and peace.
St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430AD) interpreted this miracle in a similar way, and also saw in it a lesson for our inner life: “Think, then, of this world as a sea, whipped up to tempestuous heights by violent winds. A person’s own private tempest will be his or her unruly desires. If you love God, you will have the power to walk upon the water, and all the world’s swell and turmoil will remain beneath your feet. But if you love the world it will surely engulf you, for it always devours its lovers, never sustains them” (Sermon 76). So once again, this miracle teaches us to place our faith and trust in Jesus alone, and not upon the false securities that the world may offer. This requires a daily walking with the Lord as his disciples, where we continually strive to renounce our own selfish desires in order to serve the Lord and our neighbour more freely.
We also know that we sometimes fail, and St. Augustine reiterates the need to call upon the Lord when we feel ourselves sinking: “If you feel your foot slipping beneath you, if you become a prey to doubt or realize that you are losing control, if, in a word, you begin to sink, say: Lord I am drowning, save me! Only he who for your sake died in your fallen nature can save you from the death inherent in that fallen nature.” (Sermon 76).
Today’s gospel ends with Peter back in the boat, the wind dropped, and the disciples saying to Jesus, “Truly, you are the Son of God.” I am reminded of several times while training to be a priest when I was struggling and wondering whether the priesthood was where the Lord was really calling me. The feelings I wrestled with were like a storm-tossed sea. When I sat in the seminary chapel, however, and asked the Lord to show me the way forward, I was gradually brought back to a place of inner peace, with the “sea of emotions” becoming calm. I then knew that I was in the right place. I offer this as an example that I hope is helpful if you are experiencing any turmoil in your life at this present time, and leave you with Jesus’ promise: “Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gif to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27).
1 Kings 19:9,11-13
Sunday Message and Look
Download this weeks Sunday Message and Look (for our younger parishioners) by clicking on the images, for all the readings for this week, as well as the prayers during mass and the usual weekly thoughts and reflections.
Blessings on the King who comes, in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heavens! Alleluia!