19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, August 9, 2020
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

First reading: 1 Kgs. 19:9,11-13

At the mountain of God, Horeb, Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter. Then the LORD said to him, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire—but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Second reading: Rm. 9:1-5

Brothers and sisters: I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie; my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. They are Israelites; theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; theirs the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

Gospel: Mt. 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 pray. When 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.”

In other words Fr. Sonny de Rivera, SVD (Rome, Italy)

Are we willing to do the impossible?

Paintings depicting the scene of Jesus walking on the water of the Sea of Galilee to calm the terrified disciples on a boat do not really capture faithfully the fear in the disciples, who thought they were seeing a ghost.

With the waves tossing the boat in the midst of the raging sea, the safest and surest thing to do was to remain on the boat. Jesus was outside of the boat; he was walking on the water. The disciples had a choice whether or not to heed the words of Jesus, “It is I, do not be afraid.” Simon Peter said in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” When Jesus told Peter, “Come,” he was inviting Peter to do the impossible. But Peter was able to do it until he became frightened and began to sink. As Jesus stretched out his had to catch Peter, he explained why Peter began to sink, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

We often pray to God, asking for help in difficult situations. We might have experienced that God’s response is an invitation to do the impossible, to carry out what we usually think is the least feasible and practical thing to do. But God assures us that it is him who calls. Are we ready to jump into this restless sea of humanity with its difficulties and challenges, and remain steadfast? Are we willing to do the impossible?

Peter’s example teaches us that when God inspires us to do what might seem difficult, if not impossible, we should be willing to give it a try. If we genuinely believe that the Lord has inspired us to do so, the Lord will help us if only we have enough faith. If like Peter, we falter and lose our focus on Jesus, we know that He will always be there to stretch out his hand to save us.

How easy it is for us to claim that we fully trust in the Lord but when the boat we are in continues to be tossed from side to side, we begin to doubt whether God is there. Doubt is the opposite of faith. Our doubts stem from not accepting our limitations, frailties, and inefficiencies. It is also because of our eagerness to control everything, and thus we cannot let God rule our life. Do we carry the spirit of the young man who wanted to follow Jesus but was unwilling to give up everything?

Today’s gospel assures us that we should never be afraid of the big waves or strong winds that come our way. Our faith will always be tested by circumstances over which we have no control. Today Jesus is asking us to have courage and to put our full trust in Him. When there is doubt in our relationship with Jesus, he will remind us, “It is I, do not be afraid, have courage.”

Tags: Bible reflection, Witness to the Word