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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 (Jer 30:1-2.12-15.18-22): The following message came to Jeremiah from the Lord: For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: «Write all the words I have spoken to you in a book. For thus says the Lord: Incurable is your wound, grievous your bruise; there is none to plead your cause, no remedy for your running sore, no healing for you. All your lovers have forgotten you, they do not seek you. I struck you as an enemy would strike, punished you cruelly. Why cry out over your wound? Your pain is without relief. Because of your great guilt, your numerous sins, I have done this to you.

»Thus says the Lord: See! I will restore the tents of Jacob, his dwellings I will pity; city shall be rebuilt upon hill, and palace restored as it was. From them will resound songs of praise, the laughter of happy men. I will make them not few, but many; they will not be tiny, for I will glorify them. His sons shall be as of old, his assembly before me shall stand firm; I will punish all his oppressors. His leader shall be one of his own, and his rulers shall come from his kin. When I summon him, he shall approach me; how else should one take the deadly risk of approaching me? says the Lord. You shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Responsorial Psalm: 101
R/. The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.
The nations shall revere your name, o Lord, and all the kings of the earth your glory, when the Lord has rebuilt Zion and appeared in his glory; when he has regarded the prayer of the destitute, and not despised their prayer.

Let this be written for the generation to come, and let his future creatures praise the Lord: «The Lord looked down from his holy height, from heaven he beheld the earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoners, to release those doomed to die».

The children of your servants shall abide, and their posterity shall continue in your presence, that the name of the Lord may be declared on Zion; and his praise, in Jerusalem, when the peoples gather together and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord.
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)