19th Sunday of the Year 2008

Reflection for 19th Sunday of the Year (A)…

 graphic of Jesus walking on water

Readings for
19th Sunday of Year (A)
10 August 2008

1 Kings 19:9a,11-13a
Psalm 85
Romans 9:1-5
Matthew 14:22-33

The Fisherman Can’t Swim!….

I found myself humming Percy French’s song recently, “Where the Mountains of Mourne Sweep Down to the Sea.” I pictured the calm and beautiful view as one travels from the town of Kilkeel to Newcastle, in Northern Ireland. 

I am writing this reflection while the World News focuses on the destructive cyclone that has hit Burma.  In this part of East Asia one is also reminded of the devastating tsunami to have hit this part of the world in recent years.

Such is the power and destructive force, and indeed the beauty of nature.  

In biblical times people had the idea that the sea was the dwelling place of the forces of evil and the enemies of mankind.  A rough and stormy sea was regarded as the work of demoniac forces.  Only God could master the sea.

The carpenter of Nazareth walks on the water. The carpenter has power over the sea and wind.  Peter took his eyes of Jesus and saw the waves.  Peter begins to sink.  Amazingly the fisherman can’t swim! 

The fourth watch of the night would indicate that it was between three and six o’ clocking in the morning.  The darkest and coldest time of the night is over.  Jesus comes with the approaching dawn.  He is the light.  He is the Lord.  Jesus is the master of the tempest.   

Matthew’s Christian readers would have seen the boat as a symbol of their community.  They are being threatened by trial and persecution – from both Jews and Gentiles – on account of their faith.  The boat on the sea is one of the earliest symbols of the Church.  The storm is the hostility to the Kingdom of God, and so the early Christian Church was encouraged.  “Take courage.  It is I.  Do not be afraid.” 

Peter and Jesus climbed into the boat while those already in the boat cried out, “Truly you are the Son of God.” This cry is reminiscent of an Easter proclamation.  That is exactly what it is, a proclamation of Faith. 

Faith is the opposite of Fear.  Faith in Jesus strengthens us.  Faith enables us to brave life’s storms.  Faith enables us to walk calmly with Jesus. 

Let us take on board the Word of God.  Peter learned to do that.  However, I wonder if he ever learned to swim?



– Fr John Denvir sma
Silang, Philippines


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