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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Tuesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading (Num 12:1-13): Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses on the pretext of the marriage he had contracted with a Cushite woman. They complained, «Is it through Moses alone that the Lord speaks? Does he not speak through us also?». And the Lord heard this. Now, Moses himself was by far the meekest man on the face of the earth. So at once the Lord said to Moses and Aaron and Miriam, «Come out, you three, to the meeting tent».

And the three of them went. Then the Lord came down in the column of cloud, and standing at the entrance of the tent, called Aaron and Miriam. When both came forward, he said, «Now listen to the words of the Lord: Should there be a prophet among you, in visions will I reveal myself to him, in dreams will I speak to him; not so with my servant Moses! Throughout my house he bears my trust: face to face I speak to him; plainly and not in riddles. The presence of the Lord he beholds. Why, then, did you not fear to speak against my servant Moses?».

So angry was the Lord against them that when he departed, and the cloud withdrew from the tent, there was Miriam, a snow-white leper! When Aaron turned and saw her a leper, he said to Moses, «Ah, my lord! Please do not charge us with the sin that we have foolishly committed! Let her not thus be like the stillborn babe that comes forth from its mother’s womb with its flesh half consumed». Then Moses cried to the Lord, «Please, not this! Pray, heal her!».
Responsorial Psalm: 50
R/. Be merciful, o Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, o God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.

For I acknowledge my offense; and my sin is before me always: «Against you only have I sinned; and done what is evil in your sight».

That you may be justified in your sentence, vindicated when you condemn. Indeed, in guilt was I born, and in sin my mother conceived me.

A clean heart create for me, o God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not off from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
Versicle before the Gospel (Jn 1:49): Alleluia. Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 14:22-36): Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side of the sea, 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.” 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 him, 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.”

After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret. When the men of that place recognized him, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought to him all those who were sick and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak, and as many as touched it were healed.

“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”

Fr. Lluc TORCAL Monk of Santa Maria de Poblet (Santa Maria de Poblet, Tarragona, Spain)

Today, we will not see Jesus sleeping on the boat while it sinks, nor rebuking the winds and the waves with a single word, thus causing the amazement of the disciples (cf. Mt 8:23-27). But today's action is also disconcerting, whether for his first disciples or for us as we contemplate it today.

Jesus had obliged his disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side; he had sent everyone away after having satiated the hungry crowd and had remained alone on the mountain, deeply immersed in prayer. (cf. Mt 14:22-23). Without their Master, the disciples were having trouble facing the wind. It was then when Jesus came to them walking on the water.

The disciples were understandably terrified to see Jesus: since people do not usually walk over water, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But they were wrong: it was not an illusion, but the Lord himself, inviting them —as He did quite often— not to be afraid, but to trust him to awaken their faith.

This faith was first demanded of Peter, who said: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water” (Mt 14:28). With these words, Peter showed that faith consists of abiding by the word of Christ: Peter did not say “let me walk on the water”; rather, he wanted to follow what the Lord commanded him to do, and to believe the veracity of the Master's words.

While Peter’s doubts made him reel his emerging faith, they led the other disciples to bow down and confess before their Master: “Truly, you are the Son of God” (Mt 14:33). “The apostles, being storm-tossed in the sea, as soon as they saw the waters leaping up round their Lord's feet, and beheld His fearless footsteps on the water, as He walked amid the raging waves of the sea, and the ship, which was beaten upon by the waves, had rest as soon as Christ entered it, and they saw the waves and the winds obeying Him — then, though as yet they did not believe in their hearts they believed Him to be God's true Son” (St. Ambrose).

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “Prayer is conversation and dialogue with God: security of things that are expected, equal status and honor with the angels, amendment of sins, remedy of evils, guarantee of future goods” (St. Gregory of Nyssa )

  • “What is prayer? It is commonly held to be a conversation. In a conversation there is always an “I” and a “you”. In this case the You is with a capital Y. The “You” is more important because our prayer begins with God” (Saint John Paul II)

  • “There is no other way of Christian prayer than Christ. Whether our prayer is communal or personal, vocal or interior, it has access to the Father only if we pray "in the name" of Jesus…” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2.664)