• 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time A

    Posted on August 9, 2020 by in Reflections on Sunday Gospels

    Like Peter, up and down toward Jesus.

    INTRODUCTION:  Today we hear two contrasting images of God coming to

    people.  In the first reading we hear of God coming to Elijah not in the

    wind, earthquake or fire.  God comes in the tiny whispering sound.  In

    the Gospel we hear the account of Jesus coming to the Apostles walking

    on the water.  In this passage we encounter the first of three special

    additions of Matthew’s Gospel concerning the Apostle Peter.  1) Peter

    comes to Jesus on the water. (14:28?31)  2) We will hear the second

    special section in two weeks.  Peter is called the “rock” and given the

    power of the keys (16:13?20).  3) Peter is consulted by Jesus about the

    paying of the temple tax and is then instructed to take the shekel and

    “give it to them for me and for you” (17:24?27).

    HOMILY:  The divine power of Jesus is stressed in his walking upon the

    water.  The book of Job describes God (Job 9:8) “He alone stretches out

    the heavens and treads upon the crests of the sea.”  There are many

    references to God being the one who opened the way through the waters to

    the freedom in the Exodus.

        Jesus words to the frightened disciples echo the words naming God in

    the book of Exodus.  “Get hold of yourselves. It is I.  Do not be


        To the story as told by Mark, Matthew adds the story of Peter.

    Peter the consistent spokesman for the disciples in this Gospel, asks to

    duplicate Jesus’ own dominance over the chaos of the sea.  He is able to

    do what Jesus does. But as Matthew will do throughout the Gospel, he

    likes to pair the disciples’ glory with their flaws.  Peter frightened

    by the power of nature begins to doubt the power of Jesus and begins to

    sink. His response is the best instinctive response of the believer:

    “Lord save me.”  “Jesus at once stretched out his hand and caught him.”

    There is a promise implicit in this reaching out of Jesus.  Jesus is the

    one ready to grant the prayer of the community who recognizes him as

    Lord.  Only after taking Peter by the hand does Jesus rebuke him with the

    words, “How little faith you have.  Why did you falter?”  With these

    words we have Matthew’s description of the disciples.  “Men of little

    faith.”  He uses this expression five times of the disciples.  For

    Matthew the disciple in this life is always caught between faith and

    doubt.  The disciples attitude is yes…but…

        At the end of the story according to Mark’s version the disciples

    are completely lacking in understanding or faith.  Mark adds, “but their

    hearts were hardened.” But for Matthew, that boat crew images his own

    church: buffeted, frightened, but clinging to belief, “men of little

    faith”. The Matthean disciples (those in the boat: church) bow down in

    adoration and profess Jesus’ divine sonship. This profession of faith

    anticipates Peter’s profession at Caesarea Philippi which we will hear

    in two weeks.

        Lessons: l) Jesus comes to us at unexpected times and in unexpected

    ways.          2) Jesus is the one who has the power over the chaos and

    evil that the storm represents in the disciples lives and ours.

                       3) Jesus invites us to come to him. We are like Peter.

                       4) Jesus is available and wants to give us a helping hand.

    We need to learn from Jesus.  He first gives Peter

    his helping hand and then he “rebukes” him.

    I know people who almost always affirm prior to challenging. But I

    also know many people who challenge and omit affirmation.  I also

    know parents who are strong in affirming their children and

    weak in disciplining or correcting.

                       5) We like Peter are people of some faith that are

    challenged to grow from being of “little faith.”

                       6) Sometimes in reaction to the miraculous presence of

    Jesus we are like the disciples in Mark, lacking understanding and

    faith.            7)  Hopefully we will grow like the disciples in Matthew to

    adore and worship Jesus as the Son of God.

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