“Mary says, ‘My Son DOES Walk on Water’!” – Matthew 14:22-33†


 

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

 

Today’s Content:

 

  • Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • Today in Catholic History
  • Joke of the Day
  • Today’s Gospel Reading
  • Gospel Reflection
  • Reflection Prayer New Translation of the Mass
  • A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day
  • Franciscan Formation Reflection
  • Reflection on part of  the SFO Rule

 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

One week from tomorrow, my four boys go back to school; two in Middle School and two in High School.  Let us all pray for a safe year for all our students and their families.

BTW – Did I mention that my boys will not be home all day – – EVERY day (Hee, hee, hee – Party time).

 

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Today in Catholic History:


†   768 – Stephen III [IV] begins his reign as Catholic Pope
†   1547 – Death of Cajetanus van Thiene, Italian saint, dies1814
†   1547 – Pope Pius VII reinstates Jesuits
†   1978 – Thousands of mourners file past body of Pope Paul VI

(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
otday.wordpress.com &/OR
“Today in Catholic History”
http://www.historyorb.com)

 

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Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

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Today’s reflection is about Jesus walking on water, and the disciples acknowledging Him as the “Son of God’.

 

(NAB Matthew 14:22-33) 22 Then he made the disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.  23 After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone.  24 Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.  25 During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea.  26 When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.  “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.  27 At once (Jesus) spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”  28 Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”  29 He said, “Come.”  Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.  30 But when he saw how (strong) the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”  31 Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  32 After they got into the boat, the wind died down.  33 Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”

 

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Gospel Reflection:

 

Today’s Gospel directly follows last week’s account of Jesus feeding a crowd of more than 5,000 (plus) people with just five loaves of barley bread and two fish.  For the sake of the crowds, Jesus had deferred His time of private prayer and rest.  In today’s reading, Jesus finally finds some time for quiet reflection and private prayer.  He sends His disciples ahead of Him by boat, dismisses the crowds, and then withdraws to His favorite place on a mountain to pray privately.  Jesus Christ being on a mountain to pray reminds me of a Chinese proverb:

“You must climb the mountain if you would see the plain.”

 

Does the Lord seem distant when trials or adversity come your way?  It was at Jesus’ initiative that the disciples sailed across the lake, only to find themselves in a life-threatening storm:

“When it was evening, the boat was far out on the sea and He was alone on shore.  Then He saw that they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them.” (Mark 6:47-48).

Can you picture being thrown about, in a turbulent sea, in a glorified open rowboat?  In the midst of all the mayhem, you look up and see a person walking towards you – – ON THE WATER!!  Though experienced fisherman and sailors, the disciples, laboring to keep the boat aright against the violent sea, are saved by Jesus in a most miraculous and mysterious way.  

The disciples were not faring well.  Indeed, they had gotten into some serious trouble.  These seasoned men of the sea were struggling to ride out the blowing wind and foaming waves, making little progress in their journey.  While Jesus was not with them in the boat, He watched over them in prayer.  When He perceived the danger of their situation, He went to them, on the sea, and startled them with His unexpected appearance.  Do you look for the Lord’s presence when you encounter difficulty or challenges?  When you are “startled”, look for God – – He is there for and with you.

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Jesus does not calm the seas immediately!  The disciples demonstrate fear and wonder when they see Jesus walking toward them on the water.  In this story, it is not the storm which is feared but the sight of Jesus Christ coming towards them on the water.  No wonder they mistake Him for a ghost.  (The “Holy Ghost” was already with them.  I wonder if they realized this bit of fact.)

Jesus is demonstrating to the disciples His power over the waters.  Remember, from earlier in Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 8:26), a similar occurrence happened on the same sea; and Jesus took control of the weather and sea then as well:

He said to them, ‘Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?’  Then He got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.”  (Matthew 8:26)

In the earlier occurrence, Jesus CALLS to the disciples and calms their fears.  In this second occurrence, Jesus COMES to the disciples and calms their fears – – AGAIN!  In both these occurrences, Jesus is neither ghost, nor a spirit; He is the “Messiah” walking on the water in the power of the Holy Spirit.  The spontaneous, hasty Peter seeks proof that the person walking towards them on a path of deep water is indeed Jesus Himself.  He asks Jesus to command Him to come to Him on the water; and Jesus grants this request.  Jesus simply commands Peter:

Come!” (Matthew 14:29)

Peter actually obeys and gets out of the boat, and starts walking towards Jesus Christ on the water.  The reason given in the reading is that Peter became “frightened”.  I wonder if the real reason is that Peter realized the Jesus was going to make him the “rock” the church will be built upon; and everyone knows a ROCK SINKS!!!  (Hee, hee, sorry for this one.)

 

Peter’s human fear and self-imposed doubt overtake him as he is supernaturally walking on the water.  He cries out for help.  Jesus immediately reaches out and saves Peter as he is sinking into the sea “like a rock”!  When Jesus and Peter enter the boat, Matthew relates that the wind ceases.  The disciples, onboard this small, open vessel, confess that Jesus Christ is TRULY the “Son of God”.

Jesus’ control over the sea, in both of these “sea stories” may be meant to recall the Old Testament theme of God’s control over the “chaotic waters”:

You still the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples.” (Psalm 65:8);

You rule the raging sea; you still its swelling waves.” (Psalm 89:10);

The flood has raised up, LORD; the flood has raised up its roar; the flood has raised its pounding waves.  More powerful than the roar of many waters, more powerful than the breakers of the sea, powerful in the heavens is the LORD.” (Psalm 93:3-4).

And so, the Lord …:

Hushed the storm to a murmur; the waves of the sea were stilled.”(Psalm 107:29).

Into today’s Reading, Jesus’ divine power is expressed by His walking on the sea instead of simply “calming” the seas:

“During the fourth watch of the night, He came toward them, walking on the sea.”(Matthew 14:25);

Through the sea was your path; your way, through the mighty waters, though your footsteps were unseen.” (Psalm 77:20);

And,

He alone stretches out the heavens and treads upon the crests of the sea.” (Job 9:8).

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The sea is a unique place; in speaking about the sea, writer have used unique terms.  The “fourth watch of the night” (verse 25) is a nautical term meaning between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. – – early morning or late night (six of one OR half-dozen of another).  It is a historical fact that the Romans were the first to divide the twelve hours between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. into four equal parts called “watches.”  This is still the norm in some navies of the world.

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During this fourth watch, Jesus’ reply, “It is I” is a powerful, revelational, and declarative statement, from Jesus Himself, to the fearful disciples. The same statement is related in Mark’s Gospel:

They had all seen him and were terrified. But at once he spoke with them, ‘Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!’  He got into the boat with them and the wind died down.  They were (completely) astounded.” (Mark 6:50)

That powerful, declarative statement: “It is I”, literally means, “I am.”  This statement reflects the divine revelatory formula found in the Old Testament passages which reveals the hidden divinity of Jesus as the divine Son of God:

When Moses asks God, “What should I tell the Israelites when they ask, ‘who sent you?’”  God replied, “Tell them, ‘I am who am’ has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14)

Later, through Isaiah, God revealed the following:

“Who has performed these deeds?  He who has called forth the generations since the beginning.  I, the LORD, am the first, and with the last I will also be.  Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed; I am your God. I will strengthen you, and help you, and uphold you with my right hand of justice.   Fear not, O worm Jacob, O maggot Israel; I will help you, says the LORD; your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.”(Isaiah 41:4, 10, 14).

And, again in Isaiah 43, God says:

But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.  When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown.  When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned; the flames shall not consume you.  For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your savior.  I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in return for you.  You are my witnesses, says the LORD, my servants whom I have chosen To know and believe in me and understand that IT IS I.  Before me no god was formed, and after me there shall be none.  … yes, from eternity I am He; There is none who can deliver from my hand: who can countermand what I do?” (Isaiah 43:1-3, 10, 13).

So, God set the stage through Moses and the prophets for identifying the “true” “Messiah”: His name shall be “I AM”!   Another translation of the Hebrew and Greek word for “I am” is “It is I”!

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This dramatic incident on the Sea of Galilee revealed Peter’s character more clearly than from the others present for this experience of a sign of Jesus’ true divinity.  Here we see Peter’s impulsivity of his faith; his tendency to act without thinking inspired him to “get out of the boat”.  Then, that same impulsivity inspired Peter to doubt, to worry, and to become scared to death.

Peter often failed and anguished as a result of his impulsiveness.  In contrast, Jesus often hinted to His disciples how difficult it will be (and is) to follow Him; how difficult His path which He taught and lived, is.  You may think and feel that you are sinking at times, overwhelmed by waves of worry, and in the depths of fear; however, the truth is: Jesus Christ is always there to take your hand.  

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Two other interesting things said by Jesus in verse 31 of today’s Gospel reading are revealing as well:

Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “’O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’”  (Matthew 14 :31)

First, “you of little faith” is also found in Luke, and earlier in Matthew:

“If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? (in Luke 12:28);

And,

If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30).

You of little faith” is used by Jesus Christ for those of His disciples whose faith in Him is not as deeply rooted as it should be.  That was certain in Peter’s situation.

Then, the second phrase, “why did you doubt?” uses a verb distinctive to Matthew used in only one other place, in Matthew 28:17:

When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted” (Matthew 28:17).

 

The confession, “Truly, you are the Son of God“, made by all the disciples after they witnessed Jesus helping Peter back into the boat, is in striking contrast to Mark’s description that the disciples are “completely astounded“:

“He got into the boat with them and the wind died down. They were (completely) astounded.” (Mark 6:51)

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In summary, I believe this story is about the disciples’ growing understanding of the identity of Jesus Christ, living physically among them during their daily struggles.  Related to last week’s Gospel about the feeding of the “crowds”, today’s Gospel is also about what the disciples’ faith in Jesus will enable them to do in THEIR daily lives.  In last week’s Gospel, when the disciples see the crowds, they ask Jesus to send them away.  However, Jesus turns the circumstances around, telling the disciples to feed the crowd with the miniscule provisions they have with them.  For me, both of these Gospels tell much about what ministry “truly” is, and why we need to participate in Jesus’ ministry then, now, and into the future.

 Faith in Jesus Christ, their Savior and ours will enable the disciples to do the work (the mission) which Jesus has done and is still doing on earth.  Remember, Peter truly did walk on water.  The disciples truly fed a large mass of people mysteriously and miraculously with the five loaves and two fish.  Jesus’ disciples (all of US) can and will participate in the work of the kingdom of heaven when we allow Him into our lives, hearts, and souls.  When Peter fears and doubts, he falters in his faith.  Peter’s example teaches us that “true” Catholic Christian ministry (work) emerges from a faithful belief that Jesus is the “true” Messiah, God’s only Son:

See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.  And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route?  For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” (James 2:24-26)

The mission (work) of the Catholic Church is to continue the work Jesus started during His time on earth.  The family, – – the “domestic church”, – – participates in this mission as well.  Please remember that Jesus Himself said:

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”” (Matthew 18:20).

I believe people think too logically – – too “earthly” – – in regards to this particular verse.   “Where two or three are gathered together” does not mean a direct gathering, as one unit or group.  The two or three can be separated by miles, even in different parts of the world, yet still be together – – gathered – – in praising, adoring, and worshiping God.  This is why the “Divine Office” is the official prayer of the Catholic Church.  It is said privately, and as a group, throughout the world, continuously, and in unison.

 

How do you, your family, and your friends participate in the mission (works) of the Catholic Church?  In what ways can you seek to reach out to your neighbors and other people in need through acts of kindness, mercy, and justice?  Peter wanted to be like Jesus, to walk on water as Jesus did.  Take note: Peter was “successful” for a time; but then he doubted as he focused on the externals, the waves and the wind; then he began to sink into the water (like a “rock”).  How are your acts of mercy and justice rooted in your faith in Jesus?  Pray that Jesus Christ will continue to work through you to prepare the kingdom of heaven on earth.

A great deal of failure in Catholic life is due to acting on impulse, emotional fervor, and passion without counting the spiritual cost for such actions.  Peter, in the moment of his failure called out for help, seized Jesus, and held Him firmly in his grip.  Every time Peter fell, he rose again.  His failures only made him love the Lord Jesus Christ more deeply, and to trust Him more intently.  

Jesus Christ keeps watch over us at all times, especially in our moments of temptation, challenges, and difficulties.  Do you rely on Jesus for His strength and help?  Jesus assures us that we have no need to fear if we trust in Him and in His great love for us.  When trials and temptations threaten to overwhelm you, how do you respond?  Do you withdraw?  Or do you stand your ground knowing you have a powerful ally: Jesus Christ?  Let’s “get out of the boat” and stand together in our common, “universal”, Catholic faith!!

 

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Reflection Prayer:

 

Franciscan Morning Prayer

 

“Jesus Lord, I offer you this new day because I believe in you, love you, hope all things in you and thank you for your blessings.

I am sorry for having offended you and forgive everyone who has offended me.

Lord, look on me and leave in me peace and courage and your humble wisdom that I may serve others with joy, and be pleasing to you all day.  Amen”

 

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

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New Translation of the Mass

 

In November of 2011, with the start of the new Liturgical year and Advent, there will be a few noticeable changes in the Mass.  It will still be the same ritual for celebrating the Eucharist.  The Mass will still have the same parts, the same patterns, and the same flow as it has had for the past several decades.  It is only the translation of the Latin that is changing.

The new translation seeks to correspond much more closely to the exact words and sentence structure of the Latin text.  At times, this results in a good and faithful rendering of the original meaning.  At other times it produces a rather awkward text in English which is difficult to proclaim and difficult to understand.  Most of those problems affect the texts which priests will proclaim rather than the texts that belong to the congregation as a whole.  It is to the congregation’s texts that I will address with each blog, in a repetitive basis until the start of Advent.

In the words of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, #11, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. Anything we can do to understand our liturgy more deeply will draw us closer to God.

 

There is only one change in the “Holy, Holy”.  Where we presently say:

“Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes
in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest”,

with the new liturgical text we will say:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.

While this may make many people think of round Communion wafers, the meaning here is “armies,” and it refers to the armies of angels who serve God.

Material from “Changing How We Pray”, by Rev. Lawrence E. Mick

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Cajetan (1480-1557)

 

Like most of us, Cajetan seemed headed for an “ordinary” life—first as a lawyer, then as a priest engaged in the work of the Roman Curia.

His life took a characteristic turn when he joined the Oratory of Divine Love in Rome, a group devoted to piety and charity, shortly after his ordination at 36.  When he was 42 he founded a hospital for incurables at Venice.  At Vicenza, he joined a “disreputable” religious community that consisted only of men of the lowest stations of life—and was roundly censured by his friends, who thought his action was a reflection on his family.  He sought out the sick and poor of the town and served them.

The greatest need of the time was the reformation of a Church that was “sick in head and members.”  Cajetan and three friends decided that the best road to reformation lay in reviving the spirit and zeal of the clergy. (One of them later became Paul IV.)  Together they founded a congregation known as the Theatines (from Teate [Chieti] where their first superior-bishop had his see).  They managed to escape to Venice after their house in Rome was wrecked when Charles V’s troops sacked Rome in 1527.  The Theatines were outstanding among the Catholic reform movements that took shape before the Protestant Reformation.  He founded a monte de pieta (“mountain [or fund] of piety”) in Naples—one of many charitable, nonprofit credit organizations that lent money on the security of pawned objects.  The purpose was to help the poor and protect them against usurers.  Cajetan’s little organization ultimately became the Bank of Naples, with great changes in policy.

Comment:

If Vatican II had been summarily stopped after its first session in 1962, many Catholics would have felt that a great blow had been dealt to the growth of the Church.  Cajetan had the same feeling about the Council of Trent. But, as he said, God is the same in Naples as in Venice, with or without Trent or Vatican II (or III).  We open ourselves to God’s power in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, and God’s will is done.  God’s standards of success differ from ours.

Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)

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Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Role Models

 

How is Saint Francis a good model for the norm by which we can judge ourselves, and even others?

(This leads to honesty with God, and serves us well with our examination of conscience – to see how we are in the sight of God – not how other persons see us).

How is the Blessed Virgin Mary a great model for the virtue of humility?

 

 

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Secular Franciscan Order (SFO)
Rule #’s 7 & 8 of 26:

 

07.  United by their vocation as “brothers and sisters of penance” and motivated by the dynamic power of the gospel, let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change which the gospel calls “conversion.”  Human frailty makes it necessary that this conversion be carried out daily.

On this road to renewal the sacrament of reconciliation is the privileged sign of the Father’s mercy and the source of grace.

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08.  As Jesus was the true worshipper of the Father, so let prayer and contemplation be the soul of all they are and do.

Let them participate in the sacramental life of the Church, above all the Eucharist. Let them join in liturgical prayer in one of the forms proposed by the Church, reliving the mysteries of the life of Christ.

 

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  1. Pingback: “Mary says, ‘My Son DOES Walk on Water’!” – Matthew 14:22-33† | Kids say :

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