REFLECTIONS on Sunday's readings
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
August 7, 2011
Keeping faith in tough times
gospel is a reminder to keep our eyes firmly fixed on the source
of hope in times of struggle and uncertainty, writes Sister Veronica
The church knows what it means to be 'battered by the
waves'. Over its two millennia history, there have been periods of
discrimination and persecution against its members. Countless church
members have died for their faith, while others have been denied the
freedom to practice their religion.
There have also been times
when the church has fallen far short of its own ideals and has quite
seriously betrayed the gospel values it seeks to embody and proclaim. It
is presently 'battered' by huge even terrifying waves, some of its own
creating. Only God can bring order out of the chaos, and God works
through the courageous hearts and hands of faith-filled disciples.
today's gospel, Matthew tells of Jesus astride the waves like the God
of Israel (Job 9:8). In Israel's mythology, the sea represents chaos. To
walk on water is to have power and authority to bring order out of the
chaos. Matthew presents Jesus as exercising the power of God over the
potentially destructive chaos. Jesus makes his claim to divine power
explicit in words that echo God's words from the burning bush: 'It is I'
(literally 'I am'). He tells the frightened disciples to take heart and
not to be afraid.
Peter, leader of the group, continues to
doubt. He asks for a sign and is then prepared to take a risk in order
to come to Jesus on the water. He begins to falter when he takes his
eyes off Jesus and focuses instead on the threatening wind. Jesus
reaches out his hand to rescue Peter. In a lovely gesture, Jesus takes
him by the hand and holds him firmly in his grip. Jesus names Peter's
problem as one of limited faith.
Matthew weaves the story of
Peter into an earlier story from Mark's gospel. We can only speculate on
the reasons for this. Were Matthew's communities going through a hard
time? Were they battered by the waves of conflicting loyalties as they
found themselves excluded from Pharisaic Judaism? Was the pressure of
separation from the synagogue too great for some, even for those in
This is a telling story for anyone who exercises
leadership at any level in the church. It is also a reminder to us as
disciples to keep our eyes firmly fixed on the source of hope in times
of struggle and uncertainty.
Veronica Lawson RSM, East Ballarat, Victoria
archived reflections ...
Passion Sunday, April 17
5th Sunday, April 10
4th Sunday, April 3
3rd Sunday, March 27
2nd Sunday, March 20
1st Sunday, March 13
The Baptism of Jesus, January 9, 2011
Epiphany, January 2, 2011
Feast of the Holy Family, December 26, 2010
(Christmas Day, Saturday, December 25)
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