19th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A MASS, GOSPEL AND COMMENTARY: JESUS WALKS ON THE WATER (Mt 14:22–36).
AUGUST 9, 2020,
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GOSPEL OF SUNDAY, 19TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A (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. (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. 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.” (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. 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?” 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.”
(34) 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.
GOSPEL COMMENTARY from the Navarre Bible, Commentary to the Gospel of St. Matthew (with permission).
- 22-23 It has been a very full day, like so many others. First Jesus works many cures (14:14) and then performs the remarkable miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and the fish, a symbol of the future Eucharist.
- The crowd who have been following him were avid for food, teaching and consolation. Jesus “had compassion on them” (14:14), curing their sick and giving them the comfort of his teaching and the nourishment of food. He continues to do the same, down the centuries, tending to our needs and comforting us with his word and with the nourishment of his own Body.
- Jesus must have been very moved, realizing the vivifying effect the Blessed Sacrament would have on the lives of Christians — a sacrament which is a mystery of life and faith and love. It is understandable that he should feel the need to spend some hours in private to speak to his Father.
- Jesus’ private prayer, in an interlude between one demanding activity and another, teaches us that every Christian needs to take time out for recollection, to speak to his Father, God. On Jesus’ frequent personal prayer see, for example, Mk 1:35; 6:47; Lk 5:16; 6:12. Cf. notes on Mt 6:5-6 and Mt 7:7-11.
- 24-33 This remarkable episode of Jesus walking on the sea must have made a deep impression on the Apostles. It was one of their outstanding memories of the life they shared with the Master. It is reported not only by St Matthew, but also by St Mark (6:45-52), who would have heard about it from St Peter, and by St John (6:14-21).
- Storms are very frequent on Lake Gennesaret; they cause huge waves and are very dangerous to fishing boats.
- During his prayer on the hill, Jesus is still mindful of his disciples; he sees them trying to cope with the wind and the waves and comes to their rescue once he has finished praying.
- This episode has applications to Christian life. The Church, like the Apostles’ boat, also gets into difficulties, and Jesus who watches over his Church comes to its rescue also, after allowing it wrestle with obstacles and be strengthened in the process.
- He gives us encouragement: “Take heart, it is I; have no fear” (14:27); and we show our faith and fidelity by striving to keep an even keel, and by calling on his aid when we feel ourselves weakening: “Lord, save me” (14:30), words of St Peter which every soul uses when he has recourse to Jesus, his Saviour. Then our Lord does save us, and we urgently confess our faith: “Truly you are the Son of God” (14:33).
- 29-31 St John Chrysostom (Hom. on St Matthew, 50) comments that in this episode Jesus taught Peter to realize, from his own experience, that all his strength came from our Lord and that he could not rely on his own resources, on his own weakness and wretchedness.
- Chrysostom goes as far as to say that “if we fail to play our part, God ceases to help us”. Hence the reproach, ‘O man of little faith” (14:3 1).
- When Peter began to be afraid and to doubt, he started to sink, until again, full of faith, he called out, “Lord, save me”.
- If at any time we, like Peter, should begin to weaken, we too should try to bring our faith into play and call on Jesus to save us.
- 34-36 Learning from the faith of these people on the shore of Lake Gennesaret, every Christian should approach the adorable humanity of the Saviour. Christ — God and Man — is accessible to us in the sacrament of the Eucharist.
- “When you approach the Tabernacle remember that he has been awaiting you for twenty centuries” (St. Josemaria, The Way, 537).
VIDEO COMMENTARY ON TODAY’S GOSPEL
TOPIC: Have you ever had that sinking feeling when you start to engage your fears?