19th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2017 – Year A

13th August 2017

1 Kings 19:9, 11-13
Romans 9:1-5
Matthew 14:22-33

For my 7th birthday my father bought me a beautiful shiny red bicycle. I couldn’t wait to get on it but needed my father to show me how to ride it. The first time I got on it I was reassured by my father walking alongside me with his hand on my shoulder. Once his hand was there I was very confident. Then bit by bit he would take his hand away for a few seconds but still I was confident. I felt then I could risk riding alone but very soon I had a fall and shed tears. For a while my father held out his hand to steady me again and soon I was able to ride by myself.

We all need a helping hand when we take risks, whether learning to walk, passing the driving test or in my case starting to ride a bicycle. In today’s gospel we read of Jesus holding out his hand to Peter when he felt himself sinking beneath the waves. “Do not be afraid”, Jesus said. Peter was a bit overconfident when he asked Jesus to tell him to go across the water to him. But as soon as he felt the force of the wind he took fright and he began to sink. Obviously Peter took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the waves instead and began to sink. Maybe the message for us is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus especially when the storms of life affect us. It’s easy to trust in God (even to believe in God) when things are going along nicely. But when the storms of life happen? That’s the time when we should be even more faithful (full of faith). So in the calm times of life remember to pray for stronger faith so that when the storms come you’ll be able to draw on the wellspring of faith within you to face and overcome the storms.

Going back to the Gospel. Whilst the others remained in the relative security of the boat, Peter took the risk and so discovers his own limitations, frailty and fear. However, in so doing he opens himself up to the saving power of Jesus.

At some time or other we are all faced with very trying circumstances, very difficult decisions, great sorrows, powerful temptations. At those times we are being asked to ‘walk on the water’. There can be situations in which we feel weak and powerless. But if we take a chance, trusting in God, then we will not be alone. As with Peter, Jesus is there to hold us up or walk with us.

A second point from the Readings today:

In the first reading from the First Book of Kings Elijah was surprised that God did not appear in strong wind or in the earthquake or in the fire but in the sound of a gentle breeze. In the Gospel Jesus came to the disciples in a storm. So God is with us when the storms of life assail us but also in the quiet and peaceful times of our lives.

And finally, a third point:

Today’s Gospel has Jesus sending his disciples ahead of him whilst he went up into up into the hills to go apart and commune with his Father. It had been an unexpectedly busy day and so he needs, as do all of us, a time of silence and quiet, a time of contact with God. Do we give ourselves those periods of time apart or do we think that we have too many ‘important’ things to do and so cannot build up a personal relationship with God?

Lord, increase my faith, my awareness of your presence within and without me and help me to to take the practical steps needed to be at peace even amid difficulties or trials. Amen”.