19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Year: A 1 Kgs 19.9, 11-13; Rm 9.1-5; Mt 14.22-33
Door to successful living
Thousands upon thousands of young boys grow up bouncing basketballs and dreaming of a life in the National Basketball Association - the professional ranks. But only a handful are chosen each year. Woe to the young man or young woman who is talented at sports but neglects his or her education! Thousands upon thousands of new businesses are started each year, but only a small number of people in our society become super-successful in material terms. The higher you go up the scale, the smaller the numbers become. Thousands upon thousands of young couples each year stand at the altars of churches like this one and pledge their love to one another, but half these marriages will end in divorce. Many couples will stay together only for convenience, for appearances or for the children. Only an estimated 10% will find true fulfillment in their marriages. The door to any kind of successful living is a narrow one. That is why Jesus reminds us in today’s gospel: "Strive to enter by the narrow door, for many I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able." Successful living requires making hard choices. It requires dedication and sacrifice. How can Christian faith demand any less?
The narrow gate
Someone once said to Padarewski, the great pianist, "Sir, you are a genius." He replied, "Madam, before I was a genius I was a drudge." He continued: “If I missed practice one day, I noticed it; if I missed practice two days, the critics noticed it; if I missed three days, my family noticed it; if I missed four days, my audience noticed it. It is reported that after one of Fritz Kreisler's concerts a young woman said to him, "I would give my life to be able to play like that." He replied, "That's what I gave.” The door is narrow. Why should we think we can "drift" into the Kingdom of God? The Christian life is a constant striving to do the will of God as Jesus revealed it. We need to strive because there are forces of evil within us and around us, trying to pull us down.
Robin and Wilma loved one another. They decided to marry. Kids were born. Wilma gave up working because she had to take care of kids. As months and years passed the stress of life and distance between Robin and Wilma due to work resulted a strain in their relationship and commitment. Both of them began blaming themselves. Then they started blaming one another and finally they blamed God. As the kids were growing, unhappiness became visible among the family
members. Wilma stopped communicating with Robin, Robin began sinking in alcoholism. Wilma began sinking in depression and doubt against Robin. Children began sinking in irresponsible behavior and addicted to bad friendships, smoking, and frustration.
Life is a Blend
Well, life is a blend of commitment, faith, patience, love, forgiveness and understanding. This blend can take a family a long way in spite of all the uncertainties and sufferings. But doubt can really sink us as it sank Peter, unless we call upon the Lord to help us we would drown all together in the ocean of insecurity and pain.
Just look at Peter. Over enthusiastic, and wants to walk towards the Lord on water. At the Lord’s word he jumps. Then he begins to doubt himself, “can I do it”? Then he looks at the deep sea, and doubts the environment, finally he might have doubted the Lord. Well, then comes the helpless cry, “Lord save me”.
To get into a boat
Either they were afraid to return into the jurisdiction of Herod, or they were unwilling to embark without their Lord and Protector, and would not enter their boat till Christ had commanded them to embark. From this verse it appears that Christ gave some advices to the multitudes after the departure of his disciples, which he did not wish them to hear and went towards Capernaum, Matthew 14.34. John 6.16,17, or Bethsaida, see Mark 6.45.
He went up to pray
He whom God has employed in a work of mercy had need to return, by prayer, as speedily, to his maker, as he can, lest he should be tempted to value himself on account of that in which he has no merit-for the good that is done upon earth, the Lord does it alone. Some make this part of our Lord's conduct emblematic of the spirit and practice of prayer, and observe that the proper dispositions and circumstances for praying well are.
Retirement from the world;
Elevation of the heart to God;
The silence and quiet of the night
It is certain that in this Christ has left us an example that we should follow his steps. Retirement from the world is often a means of animating, supporting, and spiritualizing prayer. Other society should be shut out, when a soul comes to converse with God.
Tossed with waves
Grievously agitated. This is the proper meaning of the word plunged under the waves, frequently covered with them; the waves often breaking over the vessel.
The fourth watch
Anciently the Jews divided the night into three watches, consisting of four hours each. The first watch is mentioned, Lamentations 2.19. the second, Judges 7.19; and the third, Exodus 14.24; but a fourth watch is not mentioned in any part of the OLD Testament. This division the Romans had introduced in Judea, as also the custom of dividing the day into twelve hours. see John 11.9. The first watch began at six o'clock in the evening, and continued till nine; the second began at nine, and continued till twelve; the third began at twelve, and continued till three next morning; and the fourth began at three, and continued till six. It was therefore between the hours of three and six in the morning that Jesus made his appearance to his disciples.
Walking on the sea
Thus suspending the laws of gravitation was a proper manifestation of unlimited power. Jesus did this by his own power; therefore Jesus showed forth his Godhead. In this one miracle we may discover three.-1. Though at a distance from his disciples, he knew their distress. 2. He found them out on the lake, and probably in the midst of darkness. 3. He walked upon the water. Job, speaking of those things whereby the omnipotence of God was demonstrated, says particularly, Job 9.8, He walks upon the waves of the sea. intimating that this was impossible to any thing but Omnipotence.
“It is a spirit”
That the spirits of the dead might and did appear, was a doctrine held by the greatest and holiest of men that ever existed; and a doctrine which the cavaliers, free-thinkers and bound-thinkers, of different ages, have never been able to disprove.
“It is I; be not afraid”
Nothing but this voice of Christ could, in such circumstances, have given courage and comfort to his disciples. those who are grievously tossed with difficulties and temptations require a similar manifestation of his power and goodness. When he proclaims himself in the soul, all sorrow, and fear, and sin are at an end.
Bid me come on the water
A weak faith is always wishing for signs and miracles. To take Christ at his word, argues not only the perfection of faith, but also the highest exercise of sound reason. He is to be credited on his own word, because he is the TRUTH, and therefore can neither lie nor deceive.
Peter-walked on the water
However impossible the thing commanded by Christ may appear, it is certain he will give power to accomplish it to those who receive his word by faith; but we must take care never to put Christ's power to the proof for the gratification of a vain curiosity; or even for the strengthening of our faith, when the ordinary means for doing that are within our reach.
When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid
It was by faith in the power of Christ he was upheld; when that faith failed, by which the laws of gravitation were suspended, no wonder that those laws returned to their usual action, and that he began to sink. It was not the violence of the winds, nor the raging of the waves, which endangered his life, but his littleness of faith.
Jesus stretched forth his hand
Every moment we stand in need of Christ. while we stand-we are upheld by his power; and when we are falling, or have fallen, we can be saved only by his mercy. Let us always take care that we do not consider so much the danger to which we are exposed, as the power of Christ by which we are to be upheld; and then our faith is likely to stand strong.
The wind ceased
Jesus is the Prince of peace, and all is peace and calm where he condescends to enter and abide.
Thou art the Son of God
It is probable that these words were spoken either by the sailors or passengers, and not by the disciples. Critics have remarked that, when this phrase is used to denominate the Messiah, both the articles are used, and that the words without the articles mean, in the common Jewish phrase, a Divine person. It would have been a strange thing indeed, if the disciples, after all the miracles they had seen Jesus work, after their having left all to follow him, Messiah. That they had not as yet clear conceptions concerning his kingdom, is evident enough; but that they had any doubts concerning his being the promised Messiah is far from being clear.
Fr. Rudolf V. D’ Souza OCD
Vancouver - Canada