August 10, 2014

The Gospel Today

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 14:22-23

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.”

Reflection (Sem. Alfredo Dimaano, Jr.):

I would always enjoy the beach but honestly, I cannot swim. That prevents me from getting a little far away from the shore for fear of drowning. No matter how I try, I would float but still am unable to do a stroke or two.  Our Gospel for today narrates one of the most dramatic scenes in the New Testament: the walking of Jesus on water. To the amazement of His disciples, Jesus spoke to them: “It is I. Do not be afraid.” In a very moving scene, Jesus commanded Peter to walk but when the strong wind passed, the apostle’s faith was easily trampled by fear. And in a fashion that is expected of Jesus, He saved him.

Like Peter, I am also a “man of little faith”. Just when I thought that I would go all the way in serving the Lord, I sometimes falter, getting myself drowned with the many pre-occupations on my mind. I lose my focus on Jesus and instead, place my full attention to the storms that come along the way such as doubts, problems, deficiencies, and temptations. And although I see the presence of the Lord in my life, I would still waver with my convictions and end up being tossed by the winds of anxiety and distress. If only I can keep my gaze on Him, surely, He will journey with me to do even the impossible. I believe that with Him, I can defy not only the laws of gravity, but also even the most difficult challenges in life.

The Lord invites us: “Come”. Together with His call is a summon asking us to get out of our boat: our comfort zones, fears, and conveniences so we can, together with Him, move towards a meaningful journey with Him. Jesus did not promise that life would be smooth-sailing but that He is always there, ready to pick us up if only we will leave behind our “boat”— all those that could hinder us and plunge ourselves to the challenges with brave hearts full of trust and humility. One thing I noticed: when Peter was beginning to sink, he had the meekness to acknowledge his frailty by asking Jesus to save him.

Whether we know how to swim or not, God is there, His presence above the torrents, Jesus will stretch out His hands for us, calling us to journey with Him and so we have enough courage to drive out all the fears in us and find that longed-for peace only in Him.

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