Monday, August 03, 2009

Gospel for Aug 4, Memorial: St John Vianney, Priest

Tuesday, 18th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Matthew 14:22-36

Jesus Walks on the Water
[22] Then He (Jesus) made the disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds. [23] And after He had dismissed the crowds He went up into the hills by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone, [24] but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. [25] And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. [26] But when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. [27] But immediately He spoke to them, saying, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear."

[28] And Peter answered Him, "Lord, if it is you, bid me come to You on the water." [29] He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; [30] but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me." [31] Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?" [32] And when they got into boat, the wind ceased. [33] And those in the boat worshipped Him, saying, "Truly You are the son of God."

[34] And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. [35] And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent round to all the region and brought to Him all that were sick, [36] and besought Him that they might only touch the fringe of His garment; and as many as touched it were made well.
22-23. It has been a very full day, like so many others. First, Jesus works many cures (14:14) and then performs the remarkable miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish, a symbol of the future Eucharist. The crowd who have been following Him were avid for food, teaching and consolation. Jesus "had compassion on them" (14:14), curing their sick and giving them the comfort of His teaching and the nourishment of food. He continues to do the same, down the centuries, tending to our needs and comforting us with His word and with the nourishment of His own body. Jesus must have been very moved, realizing the vivifying effect the Blessed Sacrament would have on the lives of Christians--a sacrament which is a mystery of life and faith and love. It is understandable that He should feel the need to spend some hours in private to speak to His Father. Jesus' private prayer, in an interlude between one demanding activity and another, teaches us that every Christian needs to take time out for recollection, to speak to His Father, God. On Jesus' frequent personal prayer see, for example, Mark 1:35; 6:47; Luke 5:16; 16:12. See the notes on Matthew 6:5-6 and Matthew 7:7-11.

24-33: This remarkable episode of Jesus walking on the sea must have made a deep impression on the Apostles. It was one of their outstanding memories of the life hey shared with the Master. It is reported not only by St. Matthew, but also by St. Mark (6:45-52), who would have heard about it from St. Peter, and by St. John (6:14-21).

Storms are very frequent on Lake Gennesaret; they cause huge waves and are very dangerous to fishing boats. During His prayer on the hill, Jesus is still mindful of His disciples; He sees them trying to cope with the wind and the waves and comes to their rescue once He has finished praying.

This episode has applications to Christian life. The Church, like the Apostles' boat, also gets into difficulties, and Jesus who watches over His Church comes to its rescue also, after allowing it to wrestle with obstacles and be strengthened in the process. He gives us encouragement: "Take heart, it is I; have no fear" (14:27); and we show our faith and fidelity by striving to keep an even keel, and by calling on His aid when we feel ourselves weakening: "Lord, save me" (14:30), words of St. Peter which every soul uses when he has recourse to Jesus, his Savior. Then our Lord does save us, and we urgently confess our faith: "Truly you are the Son of God" (14:33).

29-31. St. John Chrysostom ("Hom. on St. Matthew", 50) comments that in this episode Jesus taught Peter to realize, from his own experience, that all his strength comes from our Lord and that he could not rely on his own resources, on his own weaknesses and wretchedness. Chrysostom goes as far as to say that "if we fail to play our part, God ceases to help us." Hence the reproach, 'O man of little faith" (14:31).

When Peter began to be afraid and to doubt, he started to sink, until again, full of faith, he called out, "Lord, save me." If at any time we, like Peter, should begin to weaken, we too should try to bring our faith into play and call on Jesus to save us.

34-36. Learning from the faith of these people on the shore of Lake Gennesaret, every Christian should approach the adorable humanity of the Savior. Christ--God and Man--is accessible to us in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

"When you approach the Tabernacle remember that He has been awaiting you for twenty centuries" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 537).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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