August 13, 2017: Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Theme: Look unto Jesus

When faced with life’s challenges it is good to follow Jesus’ example. Jesus found time to go up to the hills by Himself to pray. He wanted space where he could be alone and a time when he could be with His Father. The social situation at His time was not the best. John the Baptist had been killed. As a result, Jesus and His disciples withdrew by boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves. This did not work because thousands of people followed Him to the place, so He ended up busily healing their sick and feeding them – a crowd of thousands.

The evangelist Matthew only mentions Jesus praying at really critical moments like on the stormy night and in the Garden of Gethsemane just before his death. It is at such moments that Jesus draws strength from God and sheltering in the divine intimacy of the Father’s love. In such busy situations, Jesus did what Elijah had done before.

In today’s First Reading we are told Elijah also went up to be alone with God on the mountain. He had just defeated the Prophets of Baal to the disapproval of Jezebel who was hunting for him. We are also told that Moses often went up the mountain by Himself to pray. We, too, must find a time to pray. The world is full of noise and distraction and the best way to communicate with God is in the silence our hearts.

The difficulties of life sometimes put us down. These difficulties can be compared to the storms which assail us in the sea, but we should not be discouraged. It is at these difficult moments that God intervenes. He needs just a little effort from us. There are comfortable words for us in the Psalms: God reached down from on high and took me; He drew me out of mighty waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me; for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity; but the Lord was my support…. (Psalm 18:16-19)

In our struggle, we should know and keep comfort and courage in mind. We can take comfort, knowing that Jesus is praying for us during the storm. We can take courage, knowing that His coming will bring us great peace. However, such comfort and courage will only come to those who are willing to serve Him now. Are you in the “boat” and “rowing” in the service of Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

Life is all about taking and bearing risks. Most people avoid taking risks. Peter had the choice of remaining in the boat’s “comfort zone” or of moving on the rough sea with Jesus. He chose to walk with Jesus. And he began sinking. If you want to walk on the water, you must come out of the boat and strive to imitate Christ. So always look unto Jesus instead of thinking of sinking.

Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf

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