Lector's Notes
by Gregory Warnusz

First Reading – Tips

As lector, make sure the congregation understands that God was absent from the most likely phenomena, and present where least expected. Emphasize the sentences “God was not in the …” Then lower your voice to a near whisper when you describe where God was present.

Second Reading – Tips

All that said, how are you to proclaim this passage? Make sure your hearers know that it’s the Jews that Paul is concerned about. Emphasize the words “for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. They are Israelites…”Unless you already use the short introductions to the readings for the congregation, above, talk this over with your assembly’s preacher, and give your listeners the benefit of this explanation before the reading:In this reading Saint Paul begins to work out the question of how the Jews, always God’s chosen people, could apparently forfeit their chosen status by rejecting Christ.

There’s one more subtlety you should observe in your proclamation, at the very end. Paul says that from the Jews came Christ, who is God who is blessed forever. (Usually in Saint Paul’s writing “God” means the Father, and “Christ” is the title of Jesus the Son of the Father. But here the apostle clearly assigns the title “God” to Christ.) All three expressions are, you may remember from high school English, in apposition: “the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever.”

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Intro to Readings
by Gregory Warnusz

First Reading

A prophet is running for his life from a vengeful pagan queen. He comes to the mountain where, many generations earlier, God had favored Moses with a powerful apparition. The hounded prophet gets a different kind of sign.

Second Reading

Saint Paul begins to work out the question of how the Jews, always God’s chosen people, could apparently forfeit their chosen status by rejecting Jesus as the Christ.

Gospel

To the ancients, the sea was the element last and least yielding to the sovereignty of God.

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Commentary and Videos

Word-Sunday.com

by Larry Broding

Doctrinal Homily Outlines

by Kevin Aldrich

The Prayer of Christ’s Followers

Central idea: Christ’s prayer to the Father.

Doctrine: The prayer of Jesus and Mary.

Practical application: Important norms for our own life of prayer.

INTRORDG 1PSLMRDG 2GOSPELMSGSCONNECTIONQUESTIONSTODAY'S VOICESCHURCH FATHERSCATECHISM
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God's Presence in Times of Fear and Affliction

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First Reading
commentary

"...there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave." — 1 Kings 19:12c-13

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Responsorial Psalm

“Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down…” — Psalm 85:10-11

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Second Reading

I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ… — Romans 9:2-3

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Gospel Reading

“When Peter saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus… — Mt 14:30-31a

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Pastoral Connection

Pope Francis sits with laity, religious and clergy at the Pre-Synod Youth Meeting at the Vatican, March 2018.


PHOTO CREDITS:
FIRST READING:
PSALM:
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GOSPEL:
PASTORAL CONNECTION:
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commentary

"...there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave." — 1 Kings 19:12c-13

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First Reading

1 Kgs 19:9a, 11:13a

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Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

The Word as a gentle whisper

FIRST READING—If we are to read the chapters leading up to today’s verses, we will discover that Elijah arrives at the cave, a broken and discouraged man. The wicked queen, Jezebel, has run him out of town. In the verses prior to this reading, Elijah asks God to take his life. In response, God tells Elijah to “stand before the Lord as he passes by.” God does not appear in the mighty storm or earthquake, but in a tiny breeze – in the silence. In this experience, Elijah discovers that God is now to be found in the Word that comes as a gentle whisper. Elijah hides his face from God because Mosaic tradition has it that one cannot look upon the face of God and live (Ex 33:18-23). In and through this gentle experience of God’s presence, Elijah’s faith and hope are restored and he returns to his role as God’s prophet.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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Sr. Patricia Stevenson's Reflection

God is found in the whisper of the heart

FIRST READING—The story from Kings tells of a prophet who wanted to hide from the storms in his community. Violence was all about him so he took refuge in a cave. God called him out of the cave to stand on the mountain before him.

A strong wind blew up which tore up trees and moved rocks. After the wind there was an earthquake. After the earthquake there was a bush fire. Each time God showed Elijah that none of these signs was a manifestation of the presence of God.

God was showing Elijah that God is alongside us in turmoil but God does not cause us turmoil. God is not to be found in displays of power over. This is an important truth for today when some of the so called servants of God use power to effect their will.

After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When Elijah heard the whisper, he covered his face for he now recognised the presence of God. He also faced the fact that some of his attitudes and methods had been violent. This moving story reminds us that displays of power do not achieve anything but increased fear. God will be found in the whisper in the heart. God will be found in the quiet working out of peaceful solutions.

©2005 Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Used with permission.

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Fr. Clement Thibodeau's Reflection

God grants strength to Elijah in the silence of prayer

FIRST READING—Elijah’s prophetic ministry was exercised in the Northern Kingdom around 850 BCE. There is no “Book of Elijah” in the Jewish Scriptures, but his work is reported in the Books of Kings.

He is a kind of Moses figure for his times: He runs into problems with the monarchy as Moses did in Egypt; He escapes into the desert only to be summoned from there to minister to God’s people. He, too, needs to undergo a personal conversion.

Whereas he had expected God in the mighty upheavals of the natural order, he discoversthat God ultimately can be found only in profound silence, when the self is completely out of the way. He has to put aside all his human and earthly expectations in order for the utterly transcendent God to come to him and to strengthen him in his powerlessness.

© 2017 Father Clement D. Thibodeau. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone's Reflection

God calls Elijah out of his hiding place

FIRST READING—If this reading were all we ever heard about Elijah we might think of him as a holy hermit, maybe even a quiet, gentle soul. This selection doesn’t remind us that Elijah had just pulled off one of the showiest grandstand stunts in Bible history by getting God to make a soaked sacrifice burst into flame. Our opening gives us no hint that Elijah was running away. He fled to the cave where we encounter him because just after performing that fire caper, he oversaw the slaying of Queen Jezebel’s prophets and she was dead set on getting revenge.

The passage in today’s liturgy doesn’t tell us that when his flight wore him out, Elijah lay down under a shade tree and begged God to just let him die in peace (1 Kings 18:21-19:8). While Elijah was thus resting and feeling sorry for himself, God sent an angel to shake him out of his lethargy. Elijah then took a 40-day trek through the desert to Mount Horeb (Sinai) where Moses had had his encounters with God. All of this is the immediate preparation for Elijah’s experience in the cave that we read about today.

Elijah wanted peace and quiet, but God called him out of his hiding place. With a summons that would turn the knees of the bravest to jelly, Elijah is told,“Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” Can’t we just hear him taking quick recourse in Psalm 24: “Who can go up the mountain of the Lord? Who can stand in his holy place?”

Elijah couldn’t quite get himself to leave that cave. From inside, he heard the boulder-crushing storm, he felt the earthquake and saw the fire. Then, from outside his place of refuge, he heard a whispering sound. Coming in the calm after the storm, this wasn’t even an oracle — no words, just a sound. But somehow, Elijah knew what it meant. Hiding his face in his cloak, like Linus in the Peanuts comic strip with his blanket, he went to the entrance of the cave.

The reading doesn’t tell us anymore. All we hear is that Elijah stood half-hidden at the entrance to the cave. He listened to God’s gentle presence. That was enough. With that, he could go on.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 2017 Reflections2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

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God comforts his prophet

FIRST READING—The prophet Elijah felt he had failed in his mission to call the covenant people to repentance. He sank into a deep depression and asked God to let him die. God took pity on His prophet and gave him the strength and encouragement he needed through an intimate encounter with God’s Divine Presence. It is the same way God welcomes each of us to come to Him and receive comfort and reassurance when we feel alone and afflicted when facing struggles in our lives.

Exploring the Text

God's divine name, YHWH

This passage contains God’s Divine Name, YHWH, (rendered LORD in the translation), repeated seven times.  In the symbolic significance of numbers in Scripture, the number seven represents fullness and completion; it is also the number of the Holy Spirit (see the document about the symbolic significance of numbers in Scripture).  YHWH (Yahweh) is God’s divine covenant name.  It was first spoken in the Biblical account by Eve (Gen 4:1), used by Abraham when he addressed God (Gen 15:2), and the name by which God told Moses all generations in a covenant relationship with Him should invoke Him (Ex 3:15).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Elijah's depression and God's pity

The contest with the priests of Baal, the murders of so many brother prophets by wicked Queen Jezebel, and the continuing apostasy of the covenant people left Elijah in a state of physical and emotional collapse.  Elijah sank into a deep depression.  He stopped eating and prayed for death (1 Kng 19:4).  God took pity on His prophet and sent an angel to feed Elijah until he was strong enough to travel forty days to Mount Sinai/Horeb (1 Kng 19:8).  God sent him to the place where He first established His covenant with Israel to remind the prophet that what was at stake was more than the success or failure of one prophet.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Elijah stands in the cave to await God

Once he arrived at the mountain, God told Elijah to stand in a cave to await the coming of his God. He stood in a mighty wind, an earthquake, and fire before he heard a tiny whispering sound (1 Kng 19: 11-12). The wind, earthquake, and fire were manifestations of God’s power and sovereignty over the earth, as in the theophany the Israelites experienced at their rendezvous with Yahweh at Mount Sinai (Ex 19:18). But the “tiny whispering sound” was a manifestation of God’s gentle Spirit that calls humanity to salvation. When the prophet heard the whispering sound, he realized God’s Divine Presence was about to pass by. He covered his face and stepped forward to the entrance of the cave to be renewed by the experience of the unique intimacy of being in God’s Divine Presence.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Elijah covers his face

Elijah covered his face (1 Kng 19: 13) because he knew from the Pentateuch of Moses, which recorded a similar experience Moses had in an intimate encounter with the Divine, that no human being could see the face of God and remain alive (Ex 33:18-23). Humans could see God’s glory as reflected in creation and the signs of His Divine Presence like the Glory Cloud (e.g., Ex 13:21-22). However, before the coming of God the Son in His Incarnation, sinful man could not behold the glory of God and remain alive. God knows our strengths and our weaknesses. When He calls us to fulfill a mission, our success does not depend on our strength and courage, but our willing obedience to follow His call. It is in Jesus Christ that God has revealed Himself to humankind, to offer us His loving compassion and the gift of eternal salvation.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
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“Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down…” — Psalm 85:10-11

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Responsorial Psalm

Ps 85:9, 10, 11-12, 13-14

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Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation

RESPONSORIAL PSALM—This psalm announces peace and salvation for the faithful remnant of Israel.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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Trust and hope in the Lord

PSALM—God’s salvation is near to those who keep their trust and hope in Him. God revealed Himself to the children of Israel as the One abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness who offered the promise of salvation beyond their temporal lives. The Fathers of the Church saw in God’s promise of future salvation the Incarnation of the Divine Word, the union of Godhead with human nature in Jesus Christ.

Exploring the Text

Introduction to the Psalm

Psalm 85 is a hymn proclaiming God’s goodness to His covenant people. God brings inner peace to those who draw near to Him. God assures the covenant people in verse 10 that He loves them: Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him, glory dwelling in our land. You may ask, “What does fear have to do with love?” Fear in the sense of verse 10 means the fear of offending our God who we love with all our heart and soul. If you fully love, you express signs of your love in fellowship and harmony. We do not set out to offend and hurt those we truly love. We offend God and diminish our love for Him when we are disobedient to His commands and the teachings of God the Son, as communicated by Mother Church. Our sins separate us from fellowship with God, from communion with our brothers and sisters in the family of God, and are evidence of a lack of love.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The promise of the Incarnation of the Divine Word
11 Kindness [hesed] and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss.

God revealed Himself to Israel as the one “abounding in steadfast love (hesed in Hebrew means “covenant love”) and faithfulness” (Ex 34:6). The Fathers of the Church saw in Ps 85: 10-11 the promise of the Incarnation of the Divine Word, the union of Godhead and human nature in Jesus Christ. St. Athanasius wrote: “Truth and mercy embrace in the truth which came into the world through the ever-virgin Mother of God” (Expositio in Psalmos, 84).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
God's steadfast love and kindness
112 Truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven. 13 The LORD himself will give his benefits; our land shall yield its increase. 14 Justice shall walk before him, and prepare the way of his steps

Using the imagery of fruit produced by rainfall and the fertility of the earth in Ps 85: 12-13, the psalmist proclaims that salvation comes through God’s steadfast love and forgiveness. His forgiveness will come down from heaven (verse 12), and on the earth, the people will live in justice, keeping their vows of fidelity. In His works and His words (Ps 85: 13-14), “God displays not only His kindness, goodness, grace, and steadfast love, but also His trustworthiness, constancy, faithfulness, and truth … He is the Truth, for ‘God is light, and in Him, there is no darkness’; ‘God is love'” (CCC 214 quoting 1 Jn 1:5). God reveals His mercy to the people He chose for Himself. In the course of their unfolding history, the people of Israel, when facing misfortune and in times of restoration and prosperity, entrusted themselves to the God of mercy and love. St. John Paul II wrote, “All the subtleties of love became manifest in the Lord’s mercy towards those who are His own” (Dives in misericordia, 4).

God granted His mercy and salvation to the “sons of Korah,” traditionally attributed as the authors of this psalm in the superscription. The sons of the traitor, Korah, understood God’s forgiveness and mercy. They were the descendants of a Levite who led a rebellion against Aaron and the chief priests of the ministerial priesthood (Num chapter 16). God destroyed Korah along with members of his family and others who followed him in the rebellion, but the young children in Korah’s family did not bear the curse of their father/grandfather (Num 26:10-11). In David and Solomon’s time, the descendants of Korah became the Temple’s chief liturgists and choirmasters (see the titles of Ps 42, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 84, 85, 87, 88).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
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I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ… — Romans 9:2-3

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Second Reading

Rom 9:1-5

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Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

The rejection of Christ by his own people

SECOND READING—These verses are an introduction to Chapters 9, 10 and 11 of Romans, in which Paul deals with the issue of the Jews in God’s mystery of salvation. Paul is very proud of his Jewish heritage and, prior to his conversion, saw it as his God-given duty to rid the Israelite faith of Christian heretics. But God opens his eyes and helps him to see that Judaism is a preparation for the fullness of God’s revelation. Paul hopes all Jews would come to this conclusion and open their hearts to Jesus. Unfortunately, this is not happening.

The rejection of Christ by his own people breaks Paul’s heart. His grief is so deep that he is willing to be separated from Christ if this means that his people will accept Christ. Paul lists seven privileges or blessings that his people have received from God which should open their hearts to see in Christ the fullness of God’s revelation. Paul’s pain is not unlike the pain of people who become separated from family and friends over issues of faith and religion.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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Sr. Patricia Stevenson's Reflection

When the legacy of violence taints generations

SECOND READING—Paul touches on the issue where the legacy of violence has tainted generations. Jesus died a good son of Judaism. Succeeding generations have tried to separate Jesus from his roots and in doing so had perpetrated a racism which has not yet been overcome. The violence around us, insidious racism and overt terrorism which not be resolved until the violence in our hearts has been faced and eradicated. This calls for ongoing conversion of heart. “Do not be afraid. It is I.

©2005 Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Used with permission.

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Fr. Clement Thibodeau's Reflection

Paul suffers with the fact that Israel does not believe

SECOND READING—Paul begins the three-chapter section where he will deal with the case of Israel which has been God’s chosen but has now rejected God’s Messiah. Where do the People of the Promise and of the Covenant and of the Glory of God now stand before God? They have not been faithful. Is God still faithful? Paul is in anguish. He goes so far as to say that he wishes he were alienated from Christ ifhis flesh-and-blood Israelites would only come to believe!

© 2017 Father Clement D. Thibodeau. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone's Reflection

People of every generation share Paul’s problem

SECOND READING—In Romans 9, Paul deals with the disappointing reality that so few of his people have come to faith in Christ. Like parents who wonder why their children have left the church, he recounts all the blessings his people have received. Paul calls his people “Israelites,” using the name bestowed on their ancestor Jacob who struggled with God. He then lists the advantages God has given them and them alone: They are God’s adopted, chosen above all others; They were given covenants and the Law; God taught them how to worship; They are the people of the promise, and they have the patriarchs. In his anguish Paul wonders why they don’t believe in Christ when their entire past prepared them for the Messiah. And, so one could ask: “What more could they have been given?”

Paul says he would give anything if only they could be brought to faith: “I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people.” He sounds just like his predecessor Moses who gave God an ultimatum: Either forgive the calf-worshippers or blot me out of your book! (Exodus 32:32). Both Paul and Moses sound like parents.

People of every generation share Paul’s problem. We wonder why others don’t see what we do. For some it becomes the poignant question: “If mine is the way to salvation, will all others be damned?” Nearly two thousand years after Paul, the church grappled with that question and came up with a response that opened a new Catholic approach to other faiths. With the Second Vatican Council and subsequent reflection, we acknowledge that we reach an intellectual impasse when we simultaneously profess that Christ is the Savior of the world and that God wills the salvation of all peoples, Christian or not. In this, the church has taken the path of intellectual humility. We trust that universal salvation will come about in ways that only God comprehends. Individual Christians are still called to be witnesses, but we aren’t responsible to make all humankind believe what we do. (See statements by the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews.)

Gaudium et Spes (“Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World”) states that varieties of atheism are among the most serious human problems of our time (#19). That reiterates the concern that Paul and today’s families share. This document also lays part of the blame for contemporary atheism and agnosticism on the lack of credible witnesses among church members.

Where does all of this leave us in a society where the number of those who profess no religious belief, the “nones,” is growing faster than any denomination? Today’s Gospel offers us an example of the kind of witness the world needs.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

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Paul’s sorrow and his confidence in Israel’s Divine prerogatives

SECOND READING—St. Paul writes of enduring the pain of persecution from his Jewish countrymen for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we face trials and affliction on our faith journeys through life, we must trust that God, who has called us to walk His path to eternal salvation, will comfort us as we struggle with our suffering and afflictions.

Exploring the Text

On Paul's pain of his rejection by his fellow Jews

In the first two verses of this passage, St. Paul expresses the pain of his rejection by his fellow Jews. He also writes of his longing for the salvation of all his Jewish countrymen who are the “firstborn” sons of the Old Covenant. And he expresses his desire for them to come to believe in Jesus as their Savior and Lord. These are Jews who have accused Paul of abandoning his people. St. James, Bishop of Jerusalem, advised Paul on this problem when Paul visited Jerusalem in the spring of AD 58 after this letter was written and delivered to the Christians in Rome. St. James told Paul, “You see, brother, how thousands of Jews have now become believers, all of them staunch upholders of the Law; and what they have heard about you is that you instruct all Jews living among the gentiles to break away from Moses, authorizing them not to circumcise their children or to follow the customary practices” (Acts 21:20-21). Knowing these things are being said about him, Paul refutes the accusations that he has abandoned his people. In verse 3, Paul states he is willing to offer his life as a sacrifice if it brings his Israelite countrymen and women into the New Covenant in Jesus the Messiah.

Compare what Paul writes in Romans 9:1-3 with what he wrote in 8:31-39. What he writes in our passage is not a contradiction of his former words. The Chapter 8 passage deals with God’s love and faithfulness, and his statement in Chapter 9 testifies to Paul’s willing sacrifice of himself for the sake of the salvation of his countrymen. In fact, the two statements complement one another. God’s faithfulness and love for us should move us to love others with His same intensity to the point at which we should be willing, as Christ was willing, to suffer anything in order to bring salvation to others in need of God’s gift of salvation.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Paul list of Israel's divinely instituted prerogatives as Yahweh's Chosen People

1. Divine election/adoption: The election of Israel is interpreted as elevation to a corporate “firstborn” sonship status in a relationship with Yahweh. In Exodus 4:22 Yahweh affirms, “…Israel is my son, my firstborn” (also see Deuteronomy 14:1; Isaiah 1:2; Jeremiah 3:19-22; 31:9; Hosea 11:1). This corporate privilege extends to the children of Israel as a nation above all other nations of the earth.

2. Yahweh’s presence: Manifested in Yahweh’s glory (Hebrew = shekinah; Greek = doxa) in the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire (Ex 13:21-22; 15:6, 11); in the Theophany at Mt. Sinai (Ex 19-24); in the desert Tabernacle (Ex 34:30); and later in the Temple in Jerusalem (1 Kng 8:11). The promise of God’s continual presence was made to Moses in Exodus 33:14-17.

3. Covenants: Biblical covenants are either Treaty Covenants or Royal Grant covenants. Royal Grant Covenants are forever and carry no stipulations. However, a Treaty Covenant entails both blessings for faithfulness and obedience as well as penalties for unfaithfulness and disobedience. In Romans 9:4, Paul speaks of Israel’s covenants with Yahweh in the plural (diathekai). These included the covenant formed with Abraham, the physical father of Israel as God’s covenant people. It was a three-fold covenant that extended through his son Isaac and grandson Jacob (renamed Israel), the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. See the list of Yahweh’s eight covenants.

4. Law/Torah [instruction]= the creed and code (what to believe and how to do it): The moral and civil law was the expression of God’s divine will, given to instruct the covenant people in righteous living and to set them apart from all the nations as a people holy to Yahweh. This instruction was not limited to the written Law of Moses but included the sacred Oral Tradition and extends to all divinely inspired Old Testament texts which Yahweh placed in Israel’s care.

5. Liturgical worship of the One God: The Sinai Covenant established liturgical worship, including sacrificial requirements and what was necessary to forgive sins and re-establish fellowship and communion with God. Moses received the instruction when he was taken into the heavenly court (Ex 25-31). Liturgical worship was first established in the desert Tabernacle and later continued in the Temple in Jerusalem.

6. Prophetic promises: The covenant promises, first made to Abraham (Gen 12:2; 13:14-17; 15:4; 17:4-8, 16, 19; 21:12; 22:16-18), and repeated to Isaac (Gen 26:3-5); Jacob (Gen 28:13-14), Moses (Dt 18:18-19), Aaron (Lev 2:13), Phinehas (Num 25:11-15), and David (2 Sam 7:11-16), and spoken by Yahweh through the Prophets concerned the unique condition of Israel’s divine election as a covenant people (Books of the Prophets).

7. Ancestral heritage of the promised seed: Israel worshiped the God of their forefathers in whom the promised seed of Genesis 3:15 has been preserved, from Seth to Noah and Shem, to Abraham (Ex 3:13; 13:5) and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob-Israel. It is from these forefathers that the Messiah came to Israel.

8. Messianism: The promise of a future Savior, destined to come to redeem Israel as a prophet (Dt 18:18-19), high priest (Ps 110:4), and king of an eternal kingdom (Davidic covenant 2 Sam 7:11-16; 23:5), was foretold by the Prophets of Yahweh (e.g., Jer 23:5-6; 30:9; 33:15; 36:30; Hos 3:5; Ps 132:17; Dan 9:25].

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Notice that Paul writes 'covenants' in the plural

Notice that Paul writes “covenants” in the plural in Rom 9:4 (also see Sir 44:12, 18; Wis 18:22; 2 Mac 8:15). See the chart on Yahweh’s Eight Covenants. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger), in his book Many Religions, One Covenant, commented on Romans 9 and the link between the people of Israel and God’s covenants. He wrote: “In chapter 9 of Romans, Paul sings the praises of Israel: among God’s gifts to his people are ‘the covenants,’ and according to the Wisdom tradition they are a plurality. […]. Paul is well aware that, prior to the Christian history of salvation, the word ‘covenant’ had to be understood and spoken of in the plural; out of these various covenants he selects two particularly, sets them up in mutual opposition, and refers each one to the covenant in Christ: these are the covenant with Abraham and the covenant with Moses” (Many Religions, One Covenant, page 55). Also see CCC#s 60; 762; 218-19.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The meaning of the Jews's rejection

In Romans 1:16, Paul acknowledged that the Gospel of salvation was intended for the Jews first: For I am not ashamed of the Gospel. It is the power of God for the Jew first, and then the Greek, referring to the Gentiles. Jesus made this same statement of priority when He instructed the woman of Samaria in His encounter with her at the well of Sychar, saying, for salvation comes from the Jews (Jn 4:22c). But this preeminence of the Jew in God’s plan of salvation has now become the problem. In Chapter 3, Paul asked the question: If Israel is the chosen people of God and the ones meant to receive the gift of salvation, then how can it be that many have refused that path to salvation? In the first century AD, only a faithful remnant of the Jews of the old Israel embraced the New Covenant of the Messiah Jesus and His Gospel of salvation to form Jesus’ Kingdom of the “new Israel” that is the universal Church (CCC 877).

What is the meaning of this rejection by the Jews? What is its significance in the historical election of Israel as the first among many nations? What about the irrevocable promises Yahweh made to His chosen people: to their forefathers, the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to Israel as the first, unified covenant people at Mt. Sinai? In Romans Chapter 4, Paul referred to those promises, but he only mentioned them as they were related to Abraham’s justification by faith contrasted with works of the old Law. In this section of his letter, Paul returns to the foundational promises made to Abraham, and he applies those promises to the question of Israel’s rejection of the Messiah and the “ingathering” of the Gentile nations of the earth into the New Covenant of salvation in Christ Jesus.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
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“When Peter saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus… — Mt 14:30-31a

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Gospel Reading

Mt 14:22-33

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Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

When all seems lost, Jesus shows up

GOSPEL—This story follows directly after the miracles of the loaves and fishes. In that story, we recall that Jesus’ effort to go to a quiet place to pray was interrupted by the crowds. So after his long day of teaching the multitudes, he heads off to the mountain for quiet time.

In the meantime, the disciples get into a boat and head out to sea. But, suddenly, a big storm erupts and they become very frightened. Then without invitation, Jesus comes towards them. At first, they think he is a ghost. Jesus tells them to ‘take courage’ as they confront a big storm.

Peter asks if he can come to Jesus walking on the water, something that takes a lot of courage. As long as Peter keeps his eyes on Jesus, he does well, but once he focuses on the storm, he starts to sink. Jesus comes to Peter’s aid and takes his hand. Our constant challenge, especially in times of fear, is to put our hand in the hand of Jesus. Jesus saves his frightened friend and rebukes him for his ‘little faith.’ Recognizing Jesus’ power over nature, the disciples worship him saying: “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Writing his Gospel many decades later, Matthew applies the incident to his congregation. The disciples in the boat represent the infant church. The stormy winds represent the fierce persecution of the early church. While Jesus is not with them physically, he is present spiritually. When all seems lost, Jesus shows up.

The part of the story where Peter walks on water and then sinks could refer to Peter’s lapse of faith during the passion and his restoration by Jesus after the Resurrect-ion. It is also symbolic of how any of us could start out courageously and then falter when the storm or crisis comes our way.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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Sr. Patricia Stevenson's Reflection

We can’t manage on our own

GOSPEL—Anyone who has crossed a strait in a storm or been caught in heavy seas will appreciate Matthew’s description of the disciples’ journey, “the boat was being harassed by the waves.”

The Scriptures use the metaphor of storm in prayers and writings to convey the turbulence that is a factor sometime in our lives or the life of our community. Look at Psalm 107 or Job 9:6. Only God, who is Lord of the sea, is able to calm the seas of our distressed hearts.

The early Christian communities, like our own were subject to all sorts of turmoil. There are frightening, disturbing disorienting movements and trends within and without our religious communities. Can we tell “good news” with any certainty?

What does this story tell us about our own journey? First, we can’t manage on our own. The Christian community is nothing without Christ, who is the breath for our sails and the stabilizer of our keel. The disciples were in difficulties because there was a great distance between themselves and Jesus.

A great distance opens between us and Jesus if we neglect our study of the scriptures. If homilists do not keep abreast of new studies we are not excused. There are very good programmes both formal and informal available today. Good news is needed to bring life to our communities. Matthew’s community didn’t take mark’s Gospel without adapting the collection to meet their own needs. We must “read” the Gospels in the light of tradition, scholarship and particularly our own life experiences.

The second point of the story is about our response to troubles. Do we lie low, hoping the storm will pass over or do we respond to the call, “Come”?

©2005 Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Used with permision.

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Fr. Clement D. Thibodeau's Reflection

Jesus holds Peter when Peter falters in the storm

GOSPEL—Matthew wants to teach his community of Jewish-believers-in-Jesus that their salvation depends on their profound attachment to the Lord Jesus Christ. He will be their shelter and their security in the midst of the world’s troubles and turmoil. The leaders of this Christian-Jewish community for whom Matthew is writing must hear how the original leaders of the followers of Jesus were confirmed in their faith by Jesus himself. They must remember the role played by Peter in the leadership of that first generation now past.

Over the next few sections, Jesus will deal with Peter as the representative of the other leaders, the other apostles. Through Chapter 17, there are three parts, each ending with a story involving Peter and his relationship with Jesus (13: 54 -14:33: Peter walking on water; 14:34 -16:20: Peter’s confession of faith; 16:21 -17:27: Peter paying the Temple tax).

In that particular storm, that particular night, Jesus comes over the waters (already a sign of divine power as in Genesis) and says: “It is I,”those sacred words that identify God when Moses asks for God’s name. These Jewish disciples could not fail to get the message that Jesus was identifying himself with the God of Mount Sinai. The Christian-Jewish community for whom Matthew wrote surely heard the same overtones.

Notice the parallels between this event and the resurrection appearances of Jesus: Fear on the part of the disciples; they do not recognize Jesus; they think he might be a ghost; then, they are reassured by him. He comes to them to strengthen them in faith. When they remembered this story, they had already experienced the risen Christ,so they were able to connect this event with the resurrection of the Lord.

Peter would need to keep his attention firmly focused on the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who has all power in heaven and on earth. If he were ever to shift his attention from Christ to himself, he would literally sink! Peter will falter during the trial of Jesus because, again, he is afraid. He has to keep in mind that scene on the lakeshore after Jesus’ resurrection: “Peter, do you love me?”

Walking on water with Jesus is a sign of Peter’s sharing in the awesome powers which the Lord will give him for the guidance of the Church community. It is not given to him for his own aggrandizement or for the sake of amazing his audience. He must know that the hostile forces of nature will have no ultimate victory over him in his task as representative of the Lord Jesus. He will be able to overcome the most ferocious opposition in his ministry of confirming his brothers and sisters in their faith.

We too easily forget that for the Jews,the sea is the place where monsters dwell! They had been a people of the desert,not a seafaring nation. Their experience of the sea, even of Lake Galilee, is one of threat and of danger. It had come to represent much of what was hostile in their lives. Fear of the unknown caused them to exaggerate the reality of the sea’s dangers. The Christian community today has its own dangers and threats. With Peter, we need to keep our eyes firmly fixed on the Lord Jesus.

© 2017 Father Clement D. Thibodeau. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone's Reflection

The courage necessary for discipleship

GOSPEL—Doesn’t it seem a little harsh that Jesus would call Peter out as “you of little faith” when the other disciples did nothing more than hang on for dear life in their storm-battered boat? The interchange between Jesus and Peter is unique to Matthew and offers a meditation on Peter’s discipleship.

When Jesus first called Peter and his brother, he told them to follow him to become fishers of men. Now in this incident, there’s a carefully recorded dialogue. At the sound of inchoate cries from frightened fishermen, Jesus calls out, “Take courage! It is I, do not be afraid!” “Take courage” is the same thing Jesus said to the paralytic when he told him his sins were forgiven and to the woman who touched his cloak for healing (Matthew 9:2; 9-22). It really means “Rejoice.”

Why rejoice? Because Jesus says “It is I.” No student of Scripture can fail to recognize that phrase as an echo of the many “I am” statements we hear in John. (The Greek wording is exactly the same.) On one hand, Jesus is assuring them that he’s not a phantom. On another level, he is telling them that he, the Jesus they just left on shore, is the one who is there.

At an even deeper level, coming close to calling himself by the proper name of God, he declares that he is there for them.

Those layers of meaning give context to Peter’s reply, “If it is you, command me to come.” It doesn’t seem probable that Peter is saying “Prove this is no fantasy.” For that, he could have simply said, “Pinch me.” No, Peter was entering into a realm more mysterious than ghostly appearances. The simplest and most challenging interpretation is that Peter was saying, “Let me come to you and be like you.” If so, that was a moment of blinding faith. Peter understood momentarily, that discipleship means walking like the Master, no matter how impossible it seems.

What sank Peter was his doubt, although the translation “wavering” probably offers a more appropriate explanation. A rather visual definition of the Greek word for doubt, distazo, says that it means to stand in two ways. Peter got caught between noticing the strength of the wind and the power of Jesus’ invitation. The wind and waves took their toll, but only until he called out for help.

A wonderful thing about this incident is that it’s not a success story. It’s a salvation narrative. This story speaks of the courage necessary for discipleship. It’s okay to be frightened in a storm. It’s downright heroic to risk stepping out of the boat and into the raging waters. Most of all, when self-confidence has dangerously overstepped its limits, the ability to call for and receive help is the real sign of faith.

The soggy Peter who got back in the boat was both humbled and empowered. He had learned, not for the last time, the truth that God’s power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

If we use today’s readings as a guide to discernment about our times, we may decide to choose Peter as our patron of audacious attempts. Today’s tempests include the lack or loss of faith in our families and society as well as the intolerable violence and injustice that plague our world. We can hide from them or heed the voice that whispers or shouts, “Take courage! Rejoice!” Elijah allowed himself to be drawn from hiding in the cave, and Peter leapt into the depths that only Jesus could help him navigate.

The world needs witnesses willing to risk trying to walk like the Master, people whose way of living entices others to faith, people who continue in the struggle to proclaim the validity of Gospel values in spite of countervailing winds. We surely won’t triumph with every attempt, but this is about salvation, not success.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

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Jesus walks upon the sea and calms the storm

GOSPEL—Jesus sends the disciples into a violent storm on the Sea of Galilee. He uses the gale to reveal His Divine identity in His power over nature as He walks upon the sea, saves Peter from sinking into turbulent waters, and calms the wind and the sea. We have God’s assurance that we can find Him in the storms and struggles of life, especially in the trials and opposition we encounter trying to do His will. Christ continually reaches out to us; all we have to do is to believe, reach out to Him in the obedience of faith, and receive His salvation.

Exploring the Text

Significance of mountains in Scripture

In verse 23, the Greek word oros means “mountain” and has symbolic significance in Scripture since it pertains to revelations of God that include:

  1. The revelation of God on Mt. Sinai (Ex 19:3, 16).
  2. Jesus’ preaching of the new Law of the Gospel on the Mt. of Beatitudes (Mt 5:1)
  3. The revelation of the glorified Christ on the Mt. of Transfiguration (Mt 17:1; Mk 9:2; Lk 9:28), to name a few.
Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The disciples think they see a ghost

Jesus defies the laws of nature by walking on the waters of the stormy sea. Since this is an impossible act for an ordinary human, at first, the disciples think they see a ghost. Jesus calms their fears by calling out “Ego Ami” = I AM. In the Old Testament Greek translation of the Septuagint, the expression Ego Ami functions as the Divine Name (see Ex 3:14; Dt 32:39; Is 41:4 and in chapter 43 ten times: see 43:3, 5, 10, 11, 12 three times, 15, 19, 25 in the Hebrew and Greek OT texts). In Isaiah 43:5, the words of the Divine Name appear along with the command “fear not” or “do not be afraid,” just as Jesus reassures the disciples in this passage.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Peter's act of repentance

At first, Peter was successful, but when he took his eyes off Jesus to look at the stormy sea, he became frightened and began to sink into the churning water. Peter had two choices: he could try to swim back to the boat, or he could call upon Jesus to save him. Evidence of Peter’s faith in Jesus and His confidence in what he knew was Jesus’ true identity is found in the fact that Peter cried out to Jesus to save him. St. John Chrysostom and St. Augustine identify Peter’s appeal to Jesus as an act of repentance for which Jesus rewarded him with salvation (Chrysostom, The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 50.2; Augustine, Sermon 75.10).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The title 'Son of God'

In the first calming of the storm at sea miracle (Mt 8:23-27), the disciples asked: “What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?”  Now they have their answer: Jesus is the Divine Messiah; only God can control nature.  They immediately bowed down in submission, obedience, and worship, using the title “Son of God” in the same sense as the prophets, identifying Jesus as the Davidic Messiah.

In the Bible, the title “son of God” did not necessarily mean divine sonship but could also mean adopted sonship, as St. Paul described the covenant relationship with God as Father for Israelites and Christians (Rom 8:14-15; 9:4; Gal 4:5; Eph 1:5).  For example, the title “son of God” identified intimate relationships between God and His creatures as in the case of:

  • Angels (Job 1:6)
  • The covenant people (Gen 6:2, 4*; Ex 4:22; Wis 5:9, 45)
  • Individual Israelites called by God to special service (Dt 14:1; Ho 2:1; Mt 5:9, 45)
  • The anointed Davidic kings (Ps 2:7; 2 Sam 7:14; 1 Chron 17:11-13), and the Davidic heir, Jesus of Nazareth (Mt 3:17; Mk 1:11; Lk 3:22)

*Genesis 6:2 and 4 refers to men in covenant with God who took wives from among the people who had abandoned Yahweh for false gods.  They became men of influence with both groups of people, but because of their wives’ pagan practices, lost their relationship with Yahweh.  The verses do not refer to angels marrying human women since angels are only spirit beings and do not have bodies, as Jesus stated in Matthew 22:30.

It is in the usual sense of God’s divinely anointed servant or Davidic heir that the title “Son of God” is applied to the promised Messiah in Old Testament Scripture (1 Chr 17:13; Ps 2:7; and 89:26).  However, when Jesus identified Himself as the “I AM” and demonstrated His power over nature, the disciples began to understand that Jesus was the “Son of God” in a sense not previously applied to other men by having God for a Father in a way others could not claim.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The miracle's details

In our Gospel reading, Jesus miraculously transformed five loaves of barley bread (only St. John includes the detail that it was less expensive barley bread in Jn 6:9) and two fishes into enough food to feed the crowd.  First, He tells them to recline in groups on the grass (Mark’s Gospel records that the groups were composed of fifty and one hundred people in Mk 6:39-40).   Then Jesus blessed the bread, broke it, and gave the food to His disciples to distribute to the people.  Scripture records that five thousand men were fed, not counting the women and children, so the number feed was perhaps twice or three times as many.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

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Catholic Bible Teachings - Trust Jesus in the Storm

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Life Messages

From Fr. Tony’s Files

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Call Jesus in the storms facing us, in the Church and in our lives.

Let us approach Jesus with strong Faith in his ability and willing availability to calm the storms in the life of the Church and in our own lives. Church history shows us how Jesus saved his Church from the storms of persecution in the first three centuries, from the storms of heresies in the 5th and 6th centuries, from the storms of moral degradation and the Protestant reformation movement (later resulting in hundreds of denominations), in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the storms of sex abuse scandals of the clergy in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

We need to realize that it is the presence of Jesus which gives us peace even in the wildest storms of life: the storms of anxiety and worries about the future we are suffering now in the ongoing Corona Virus Pandemic (Corvid-19), storms of sorrow, storms of doubt, tension and uncertainty, storms of anger and despair, storms of temptations, and storms in family relationships.  But this peace flows only from a personal relationship with God, with Jesus, enhanced through prayer, meditative reading of Scripture and active participation in the Holy Mass and reception of the Sacraments when these are available to us.

Storms reveal to us our inability to save ourselves and point us to the Infinite ability and eagerness of God to save us. When Jesus shows up in our life’s storms, we find that we gain strength to do the seemingly impossible. For example, when Jesus shows up, he makes marriages out of mistakes, he invigorates, restores, and empowers us to reach the unreachable, to cross the un-crossable. Storms let us know that without him we can do nothing, without him we are doomed to fail. Yet, when Jesus shows up, we gain the strength to join Paul, saying, “In Christ I can do all things.” But this demands a personal relationship with God, with Jesus, enhanced through prayer, meditative study of Scripture and an active Sacramental life. Experiencing Jesus’ presence in our lives, let us confess our Faith in him and call out for his help and protection always.

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Imitate the short prayer of sinking Peter

We are expected to pray to God every day with trusting Faith for strengthening our personal relationship with Him and for acknowledging our dependence on Him. But when we have no time or mental energy for formal prayers, let us use the short prayers in the Gospels like Peter’s prayer: “Lord, save me!” or the prayer of the mother of the possessed girl: “Lord, help me!” or the blind man’s prayer: “Son of David, have mercy on me!” or the repentant sinner’s prayer: “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner!”

We get plenty of time during our travels to say the short prayers like the “Our Father”, “Hail Mary” and “Glory be….” We may begin every day offering all our day’s activities to God and asking for His grace to do His will; then we may conclude every day before we go to sleep, by asking God’s pardon and forgiveness for our sins. Keeping a Bible on our table will encourage us to read at least a few words of the Bible and thus listen to what God is telling us to do.

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Not limit God’s saving presence

There are those who would limit God’s presence for their own comfort or security or to keep themselves in power. In years past there were those who would deny God’s presence in slaves. There have been those who would ignore God’s presence in their enemies. There are those who would refuse to believe that God is present in the murderer sitting on death row, in those who are marginalized by our society: the gay person, the addict, the person living with AIDS, the illegal alien, the handicapped.

It is in situations like these that we have to get out of the boat, surprise others, and show them the reflection of God in such people. Let us always look for ways to be surprised by our God and opportunities to wake one another up to the beauty, the power and the nearness of our loving, providing and protecting God. Let us also pray for a deepening of God’s gift of Faith within us, that we may be able to recognize Him in the ordinary situations of our lives, and humbly pray to Him saying, “Lord, let us see Your kindness, and grant us Your salvation.” 

Visit Fr. Tony’s Homilies each week for an introduction to the Sunday readings, scripture lessons, homily starter anecdotes, a summary of each of the scripture readings, and Gospel exegesis. Fr. Tony’s Life Messages have be used with permission.
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Pope Francis sits with laity, religious and clergy at the Pre-Synod Youth Meeting at the Vatican, March 2018.

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Church Leadership

Pastoral Connection

by Rev. Clement D. Thimbodeau

Leaders in the Church must have a very special relationship with Jesus Christ. In the Gospel according to Matthew, which is particularly addressed to the leaders of the Christian-Jewish assembly (Church), Peter represents all the apostles, indeed all the leaders among those who believe in Jesus.

Matthew arranges his material to show that Peter was prepared by Jesus in a very special way for his role in the early community. All Church leaders after Peter look to this Gospel for an outline of Christ’s teaching concerning leadership.

While we acknowledge that the Bishop of Rome, as successor of Peter in the See of Rome, holds a unique relationship with the Lord Jesus, we must not focus all our attention on the pope as the only divinely appointed leader in the Church. Bishops, pastors, non-ordained pastoral ministers, parents, and other servants of the Christian community need to see themselves addressed when Matthew tells stories involving Peter.

The model that is offered in the person of Peter in this Gospel has to be extended and applied, with certain adaptations, to all who are called to serve the Church.

We have been tempted to avoid responsibility for Church leadership by looking above to the next one up on the hierarchical ladder.

  • Bishops appear to have their hands tied by the policies of the pope who happens to be in office at the time.
  • Pastors abdicate responsibility for pastoral initiatives because the diocesan bishop has not yet given the signal that such initiatives are approved.
  • Lay leaders say they cannot do anything in their parishes because their pastors are against everything they propose. Surely, institutional control cannot contain all inspiration and guidance in the Church community.

The common good requires that leaders have the authority to decide what measures should be taken when the unity of the Church is being threatened. Unity of faith and unity of doctrine are essential to the Church’s continuing faithfulness to the Lord.

A system of governance for the whole Church and for the local churches has been developed, according to historical circumstances, for the assurance of that faithfulness. That system is in constant evolution; it adapts to changing conditions in order to assure that its purposes be effectively fulfilled. The juridical order in the Church serves the ideals of the faith and of the communion of all the faithful.

Your local pastor is not God, neither is the bishop, neither is the pope.

As a former parish priest, I need to re-read the Gospel of Matthew. I need to see again what Matthew, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wanted Church leaders to hear in that period just after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple when the ‘whole world had changed.’ What was expected of leaders then? What is expected of leaders today?

ECHOING GOD’S WORD – © 2017 Rev. Clement D. Thimbodeau (1932-2017); Used with permission.

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Discussion Questions

Faith Sharing

Opening Prayer

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

Jesus, thank you for always being present in the stormy moments of life. Deepen my faith in this presence.

Questions

Three sets of questions suitable for individual or group use. Choose one to best fit your purpose and time restraints: Faith Sharing Questions (by Fr. Eamon Tobin), Discussion Questions (by Fr. Clement D. Thibodeau), and Scripture Study Questions (by Vince Contreras).

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Faith Sharing Questions

1. Turn to the person next to you and share what word/s or image/s in the readings caught your attention. Did they comfort or challenge you or touch you in some way?

2. In the first reading, God is teaching Elijah that God is to be experienced in the very small events of life. What are some of the small ways you can and do experience our Lord?

3. In the second reading, Paul is heartbroken because his people have rejected Christ. Have you had a similar experience, e.g., when a family member rejected Christ or the Church? How did that make you feel?How did you handle it?

4. In the Gospel, Jesus’ presence allowed Peter to do something he would never dream of doing. How has Jesus enabled you to do something you otherwise would have been afraid to do?

5. Can you recall one big stormy event where you felt Jesus’ presence?

6. Name one thing today’s Gospel says to us that we disciples of Jesus need to heed and act on.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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Discussion Questions

1. What situations do you find most threatening to you at this time in your life? What do you fear the most? Do you firmly believe that Jesus calls you to come to him no matter what the danger may be? Do you feel that you have been confirmed in your faith by Jesus himself who has invited you to come to him?

2. What are the dangers that most threaten Church leaders today? What are the storms that they have to face every day? A hostile culture that does not value religious principles or religious commitment? An atmosphere which favorsdeath rather than life(abortion-on-demand, death penalty, neglect of the poor, etc.)? Superficial faith in the lives of many Church members? Ashortage of vocations to the priesthood and religious life?

3. What dangers does your particular community face? Your parish, your prayer group, your family? Do you see Jesus coming toward your boat that is being tossed to and fro on the waves? Do you hear his reassuring voice, “Do not be afraid! It is I!” Do you and your fellow Christians want to walk toward him over the very real dangers?

© 2017 Rev. Clement D. Thibodeau. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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Scripture Study Questions

1. In the 1st Reading, what is the significance of how God appeared to Elijah? In the wind? In an earthquake? In the fire? In the still, small voice? Why in that order? Why is it important to know God as the still, small voice?

2. In the 2nd Reading, St. Paul uses two witnesses to the fact that he is telling the truth. What are they? (see CCC 1783—1785) Why is it necessary for Christians today to use both of these two internal witnesses when testifying to something?

3. In the Gospel Reading, why do you think Jesus wanted to pray alone? What was one of Jesus’ concerns about his popularity with the people (see John 6:15)? How does public opinion and Jesus’ response to it resemble that of the temptations in Matthew 4:3-10?

4. What do Peter’s actions reveal about his personality? Why do you think Peter asks Jesus to call to him? When did Peter begin to sink? Why then and not earlier?

5. What do the disciples conclude about Jesus as a result of this experience?

6. Would you be more likely to stay in the boat or step out of it? Why?

7. What do you see in your own life that parallels Peter’s attempt to walk on water?

© 2011 Vince Contreras. Used with permission.

Closing Prayer

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

Jesus, just as you beckoned Peter to come to you, you invite us to come to you. It is especially lovely when we can come to youwith our small community of friends. Keep us all close to you and to each other. Amen.

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🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 LARRY BRODING 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Video by Larry Broding. Visit Word-Sunday.com website for commentary and other resources regarding the readings for Sunday.

Present Day Voices

Blogs/Online Resources

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To experience God, look at the people around you

EXCERPT — Today’s Gospel shows Jesus training the disciples to be future leaders. They are put in an uncomfortable situation and must seek God’s help in order to survive… Reflecting on the Gospel, we can see ourselves as the disciples who encounter many unexpected and upsetting conditions and seek reassurance from God. Such reassurance is offered through our must coming to recognize God in our midst. A direct theophany like Jesus’ walking on water is unlikely, so we need to be attuned to the world around us and look for God in the places and people we encounter.

AMERICA MAGAZINEJamie Waters


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Why walk on water?

EXCERPT — Sometimes Jesus is asking us to leave what is familiar, what is easy, what seems secure, and come to him in the midst of the storm. And when he calls us, here is the good news. Although the waves may be high and the winds strong, and people might think that we are crazy to step out of the boat, we are simply being disciples. We are only going to where Jesus is, taking with us the confidence that he will not let us sink. He will give us life.

BUILDING ON THE WORDFr. George Sigma


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The presence of the Lord

EXCERPT — Peter’s story is the same for every Christian. We sometimes forget Who the main character in our life story is: Jesus, the Savior of the world. If we change our focus, and permit the chaos and evil around us to distract and influence us, then we will sink into the very chaos that we fear! On the other hand, if we keep our focus on the Source of our safety, our salvation, the One to Whom we call out to save us, then the winds die down, and we are once again content in the Presence of the Lord.

MASS HOMILIESDeacon Joseph Pasquella (Confraternity of Penitents)


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God in the quiet and in the chaos

EXCERPT — Some of us imagine that God is found only in the gentle whisper, the nook of isolation, the mountain of retreat and quiet. And indeed the call is often heard there, far from the noise and distraction, not in turbulence but in serenity. But that should not lead us to believe that the storms of life signal godforsakenness. Too easily suspecting that terrors are graceless, we ignore the strongest calls made in days of strife and struggle. Rather than think our fears indicate a loss of moorings, we should imagine them as opportunities for deeper anchor.

SUNDAY WEB SITEFather John Kavanaugh, SJ

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The Catena Aurea Commentary

Saint Thomas Aquinas

The Catena Aurea (or, Golden Chain) is a compilation of Patristic commentary on the Gospels and contains passages from the Church Fathers. In this masterpiece, Aquinas seamlessly weaves together extracts from various Fathers to provide a complete commentary on all four Gospels.

List of Church Fathers

Here are some of the Church Fathers that Aquinas uses:

Third Century

  • Origen  – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian  – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius  – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius  – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary  – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus  – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa  – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose  – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome  – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius  – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine  – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a “Doctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom  – Bishop of Constantinople; a “Doctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine  – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (“the Great”)
  • Damasus  – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea  – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium  – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea  – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus  – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium  – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria  – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin  – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian)  – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus  – Bishop of Ravenna; a “Doctor of the Church”
  • Basil “the Great”  – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra  – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great  – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a “Doctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius  – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch  – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus  – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus  – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita  (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great  – Pope; a “Doctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore  – Bishop of Seville; a “Doctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople)  – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh)  (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch)  – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus  – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius  – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.)  – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – “the Venerable Bede”; a “Doctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene  – Greek theologian; a “Doctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin  – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt)  – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople)  – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus  – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre)  – monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus  – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact  – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm  – Archbishop of Canterbury; a “Doctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus  – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc)  – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria
Click on banner above to show/hide an annotated list of the Church Fathers that Aquinas compiled in his multi-volume commentary of the Gospels.

Matthew 14:22-33

22. And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.

23. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

24. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.

25. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

26. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

27. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

28. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

29. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

30. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

31. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

32. And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.

33. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

CHRYSOSTOM. Desiring to occasion a diligent examination of the things that had been done, He commanded those who had beheld the foregoing sign to be separated from Him; for even if He had continued present it would have been said that He had wrought the miracle fantastically, and not in verity; but it would never be urged against Him that He had done it in His absence; and therefore it is said, And straightway Jesus compelled his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him to the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.

JEROME. These words shew that they left the Lord unwillingly, not desiring through their love for their teacher to be separated from Him even for a moment.

CHRYSOSTOM. It should be observed, that when the Lord works a great miracle, He sends the multitudes away, teaching us thereby never to pursue the praise of the multitude, nor to attract them to us. Further, He teaches us that we should not be ever mixed with crowds, nor yet always shunning them; but that both may be done with profit; whence it follows, And when he had sent the multitude away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray; shewing us that solitude is good, when we have need to pray to God. For this also He goes into the desert, and there spends the night in prayer, to teach us that for prayer we should seek stillness both in time and place.

JEROME. That He withdraws to pray alone, you should refer not to Him who fed five thousand on five loaves, but to Him who on hearing of the death of John withdrew into the desert; not that we would separate the Lord’s person into two parts, but that His actions are divided between the God and the man.

AUGUSTINE. (De Cons. Ev. ii. 47.) This may seem contrary to that Matthew says, that having sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain that He might pray alone; and John again says, that it was on a mountain that He fed this same multitude. But since John himself says further, that after that miracle He retired to a mountain that He might not be held by the multitude, who sought to make Him a king, it is clear that He had come down from the mountain when He fed them. Nor do Matthew’s words, He went up into a mountain alone to pray, disagree with this, though John says, When he knew that they would come to make him a king, he withdrew into a mountain himself alone. (John 6:15.) For the cause of His praying is not contrary to the cause of His retiring, for herein the Lord teaches us that we have great cause for prayer when we have cause for flight. Nor, again, is it contrary to this that Matthew says first, that He bade His disciples go into the boat, and then that He sent the multitudes away, and went into a mountain alone to pray; while John relates that He first withdrew to the mountain, and then, when it was late, his disciples went down to the sea, and when they had entered into a boat, &c. for who does not see that John is relating as afterwards done by His disciples what Jesus had commanded before He retired into the mountain?

JEROME. Rightly had the Apostles departed from the Lord as unwilling, and slow to leave Him, lest they should suffer shipwreck whilst He was not with them. For it follows, Now when it was evening he was there alone; that is, in the mountain; but the boat was in the middle of the sea tossed with the waves; for the wind was contrary.

CHRYSOSTOM. Again, the disciples suffer shipwreck, as they had done before; but then they had Him in the boat, but now they are alone. Thus gradually He leads them to higher things, and instructs them to endure all manfully.

JEROME. While the Lord tarries in the top of the mountain, straightway a wind arises contrary to them, and stirs up the sea, and the disciples are in imminent peril of shipwreck, which continues till Jesus comes.

CHRYSOSTOM. But He suffers them to be tossed the whole night, exciting their hearts by fear, and inspiring them with greater desire and more lasting recollection of Him; for this reason He did not stand by them immediately, but as it follows, in the fourth watch of the night he came to them walking upon the sea.

JEROME. The military guards and watches are divided into portions of three hours each. When then he says that the Lord came to them in the fourth watch, this shews that they had been in danger the whole night.

CHRYSOSTOM. Teaching them not to seek a speedy riddance of coming evil, but to bear manfully such things as befal them. But when they thought that they were delivered, then was their fear increased, whence it follows, And seeing him walking upon the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a vision, and through fear they cried out. For this the Lord ever does; when He is to rescue from any evil, He brings in things terrible and difficult. For since it is impossible that our temptation should continue a long time, when the warfare of the righteous is to be finished, then He increases their conflicts, desiring to make greater gain of them; which He did also in Abraham, making his hot conflict his trial of the loss of his son.

JEROME. A confused noise and uncertain sound is the mark of great fear. But if, according to Marcion and Manichæus, our Lord was not born of a virgin, but was seen in a phantasm, how is it that the Apostles now fear that they have seen a phantasm (or vision)?

CHRYSOSTOM. Christ then did not reveal Himself to His disciples until they cried out; for the more intense their fear, the more did they rejoice in His presence; whence it follows, And immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, Be of good cheer, it is J, be not afraid. This speech took away their fear, and prepared their confidence.

JEROME. Whereas He says, It is I, without saying who, either they might be able to understand Him speaking through the darkness of night; or they might know that it was He who had spoken to Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, He that is has sent me unto you. (Exod. 3:14.) On every occasion Peter is found to be the one of the most ardent faith. And with the same zeal as ever, so now, while the others are silent, he believes that by the will of his Master he will be able to do that which by nature he cannot do; whence it follows, Peter answered and said unto him, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee upon the water. As much as to say, Do thou command, and straightway it will become solid; and that body which is in itself heavy will become light.

AUGUSTINE. (Serm. 76. 5.) This I am not able by myself, but in Thee I am able. Peter confessed what he was in himself, and what he should receive from Him by whose will he believed he should be enabled to do that which no human infirmity was equal to.

CHRYSOSTOM. See how great his warmth, how great his faith. He said not, Pray and entreat for me; but Bid me; he believes not only that Christ can Himself walk on the sea, but that He can lead others also thereon; also he wishes to come to Him speedily, and this, so great a thing, he asks not from ostentation, but from love. For he said not, Bid me walk upon the waters, but, Bid me come unto thee. And it seems that having shewn in the first miracle that He has power over the sea, He now leads them to a more powerful sign; He saith unto him, Come. And Peter, going forth of the boat, walked on the sea, that he might go to Jesus.

JEROME. Let those who think that the Lord’s body was not real, because He walked upon the yielding waters as a light æthereal substance, answer here how Peter walked, whom they by no means deny to be man.

RABANUS. Lastly, Theodorus wrote that the Lord had not bodily weight in respect of His flesh, but without weight walked on the sea. But the catholic faith preaches the contrary; for Dionysius says that He walked on the wave, without the feet, being immersed, having bodily weight, and the burden of matter.

CHRYSOSTOM. Peter overcame that which was greater, the waves, namely, of the sea, but is troubled by the lesser, the blowing wind, for it follows, But seeing the wind boisterous, he was afraid. Such is human nature, in great trials ofttimes holding itself aright, and in lesser falling into fault. This fear of Peter shewed the difference between Master and disciple, and thereby appeased the other disciples. For if they had indignation when the two brothers prayed to sit on the right and left hand, much more had they now. For they were not yet made spiritual; afterwards when they had been made spiritual, they every where yield the first place to Peter, and appoint him to lead in harangues to the people.

JEROME. Moreover he is left to temptation for a short season, that his faith may be increased, and that he may understand that he is saved not by his ability to ask, but by the power of the Lord. For faith burned at his heart, but human frailty drew him into the deep.

AUGUSTINE. (Serm. 76. 8.) Peter then presumed on the Lord, he tottered as man, but returned to the Lord, as it follows, And when he began to sink, he cried out, saying, Lord, save me. Does the Lord then desert him in his peril of failure whom he had hearkened to when he first called on Him? Immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him.

CHRYSOSTOM. He bade not the winds to cease, but stretched forth His hand and caught him, because his faith was required. For when our own means fail, then those which are of God stand. Then to shew that not the strength of the tempest, but the smallness of his faith worked the danger, He saith unto him, O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt? which shews that not even the wind would have been able to hurt him, if his faith had been firm. But as the mother bears on her wings and brings back to the nest her chick which has left the nest before its time and has fallen, so did Christ. And when they were come into the boat, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the boat came and worshipped him, saying, Truly thou art the Son of God.

RABANUS. (Non occ.) This may be understood either of the sailors, or of the Apostles.

CHRYSOSTOM. Observe how He leads all gradually to that which is above them; He had before rebuked the sea, now He shews forth His power yet more by walking upon the sea, by bidding another to do the same, and by saving him in his peril; therefore they said unto Him, Truly thou art the Son of God, which they had not said above.

JEROME. If then upon this single miracle of stilling the sea, a thing which often happens by accident after even great tempests, the sailors and pilots confessed them to be truly the Son of God, how does Arrius preach in the Church itself that He is a creature?

PSEUDO-AUGUSTINE. (App. Serm. 72. 1.) Mystically; The mountain is loftiness. But what is higher than the heavens in the world? And Who it was that ascended into heaven, that our faith knows. Why did He ascend alone into heaven? Because no man has ascended into heaven, but He that came down from heaven. For even when He shall come in the end, and shall have exalted us into heaven, He will yet ascend alone, inasmuch as the head with its body is One Christ, and now the head only is ascended. He went up to pray, because He is ascended to make intercession to His Father for us.

HILARY. Or, that He is alone in the evening, signifies His sorrow at the time of His passion, when the rest were scattered from Him in fear.

JEROME. Also He ascends into the mountain alone because the multitude cannot follow Him aloft, until He has instructed it by the shore of the sea.

AUGUSTINE. (ubi sup.) But while Christ prays on high, the boat is tossed with great waves in the deep; and forasmuch as the waves rise, that boat can be tossed; but because Christ prays, it cannot be sunk. Think of that boat as the Church, and the stormy sea as this world.

HILARY. That He commands His disciples to enter the ship and to go across the sea, while He sends the multitudes away, and after that He goes up into the mountain to pray; He therein bids us to be within the Church, and to be in peril until such time as returning in His splendour He shall give salvation to all the people that shall be remaining of Israel, and shall for give their sins; and having dismissed them into His Father’s kingdom, returning thanks to His Father, He shall sit down in His glory and majesty. Meanwhile the disciples are tossed by the wind and the waves; struggling against all the storms of this world, raised by the opposition of the unclean spirit.

AUGUSTINE. (ubi sup.) For when any of a wicked will and of great power, proclaims a persecution of the Church, then it is that a mighty wave rises against the boat of Christ.

RABANUS. Whence it is well said here, that the ship was in the middle of the sea, and He alone on the land, because the Church is sometimes oppressed with such persecution that her Lord may seem to have forsaken her for a season.

AUGUSTINE. (ubi sup.) The Lord came to visit His disciples who are tossed on the sea in the fourth watch of the night—that is, at its close; for each watch consisting of three hours, the night has thus four watches.

HILARY. The first watch Was therefore of the Law, the second of the Prophets, the third His coming in the flesh, the fourth His return in glory.

AUGUSTINE. (ubi sup.) Therefore in the fourth watch of the night, that is when the night is nearly ended, He shall come, in the end of the world, when the night of iniquity is past, to judge the quick and the dead. But His coming was with a wonder. The waves swelled, but they were trodden upon. Thus howsoever the powers of this world shall swell themselves, our Head shall crush their head.

HILARY. But Christ coming in the end shall find His Church wearied, and tossed by the spirit of Anti-Christ, and by the troubles of the world. And because by their long experience of Anti-Christ they will be troubled at every novelty of trial, they shall have fear even at the approach of the Lord, suspecting deceitful appearances. But the good Lord banishes their fear, saying, It is I; and by proof of His presence takes away their dread of impending shipwreck.

AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. Ev. i. 15.) Or; That the disciples here say, It is a phantasm, figures those who yielding to the Devil shall doubt of the coming of Christ. That Peter cries to the Lord for help that he should not be drowned, signifies that He shall purge His Church with certain trials even after the last persecution; as Paul also notes, saying, He shall be saved, yet so as by fire. (1 Cor. 3:15.)

HILARY. Or; That Peter alone out of all the number of those that were in the vessel has courage to answer, and to pray that the Lord would bid him come to Him upon the waters, figures the frowardness of his will in the Lord’s passion, when following after the Lord’s steps he endeavoured to attain to despise death. But his fearfulness shews his weakness in his after trial, when through fear of death, he was driven to the necessity of denial. His crying out here is the groaning of his repentance there.

RABANUS. The Lord looked back upon him, and brought him to repentance; He stretched forth His hand, and forgave him, and thus the disciple found salvation, which is not of him that willeth or of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. (Rom. 9:16.)

HILARY. That when Peter was seized with fear, the Lord gave him not power of coming to Him, but held him by the hand and sustained him, this is the signification thereof; that He who alone was to suffer for all alone forgave the sins of all; and no partner is admitted into that which was bestowed upon mankind by one.

AUGUSTINE. (Serm. 76.) For in one Apostle, namely Peter, first and chief in the order of Apostles in whom was figured the Church, both kinds were to be signified; that is, the strong, in his walking upon the waters; the weak, in that he doubted, for to each of us our lusts are as a tempest. Dost thou love God? Thou walkest on the sea; the fear of this world is under thy feet. Dost thou love the world? It swallows thee up. But when thy heart is tossed with desire, then that thou mayest overcome thy lust, call upon the divine person of Christ.

REMIGIUS. And the Lord will be with thee to help thee, when lulling to rest the perils of thy trials, He restores the confidence of His protection, and this towards the break of day; for when human frailty beset with difficulties considers the weakness of its own powers, it looks upon itself as in darkness; when it raises its view to the protection of heaven, it straightway beholds the rise of the morning star, which gives its light through the whole of the morning watch.

RABANUS. Nor should we wonder that the wind ceased when the Lord had entered into the boat; for in whatsoever heart the Lord is present by grace, there all wars cease.

HILARY. Also by this entrance of Christ into the boat, and the calm of the wind and sea thereupon, is pointed out the eternal peace of the Church, and that rest which shall be after His return in glory. And forasmuch as He shall then appear manifestly, rightly do they all cry out now in wonder, Truly thou art the Son of God. For there shall then be a free and public confession of all men that the son of God is come no longer in lowliness of body, but that He has given peace to the Church in heavenly glory.

AUGUSTINE. (Quæst. Ev. i. 15.) For it is here conveyed to us that His glory will then be made manifest, seeing that now they who walk by faith see it in a figure.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000

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Catechism Excerpts

Homiletic Directory

“By using the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the homilist can help his people integrate the word of God, the faith of the Church, the moral demands of the Gospel, and their personal and liturgical spirituality.” From the Homiletic Directory

Faith experiences testing

164 Now, however, “we walk by faith, not by sight”;49 we perceive God as “in a mirror, dimly” and only “in part”.50 Even though enlightened by him in whom it believes, faith is often lived in darkness and can be put to the test. The world we live in often seems very far from the one promised us by faith. Our experiences of evil and suffering, injustice and death, seem to contradict the Good News; they can shake our faith and become a temptation against it.

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Only faith can follow mysterious ways of providence

272 Faith in God the Father Almighty can be put to the test by the experience of evil and suffering. God can sometimes seem to be absent and incapable of stopping evil. But in the most mysterious way God the Father has revealed his almighty power in the voluntary humiliation and Resurrection of his Son, by which he conquered evil. Christ crucified is thus “the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”111 It is in Christ’s Resurrection and exaltation that the Father has shown forth “the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe”.112

273 Only faith can embrace the mysterious ways of God’s almighty power. This faith glories in its weaknesses in order to draw to itself Christ’s power.113 The Virgin Mary is the supreme model of this faith, for she believed that “nothing will be impossible with God”, and was able to magnify the Lord: “For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”114

274 “Nothing is more apt to confirm our faith and hope than holding it fixed in our minds that nothing is impossible with God. Once our reason has grasped the idea of God’s almighty power, it will easily and without any hesitation admit everything that [the Creed] will afterwards propose for us to believe – even if they be great and marvelous things, far above the ordinary laws of nature.”115

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In difficult times, cultivate trust that all is subject to Christ

671 Though already present in his Church, Christ’s reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled “with power and great glory” by the King’s return to earth.557 This reign is still under attack by the evil powers, even though they have been defeated definitively by Christ’s Passover.557 Until everything is subject to him, “until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the mark of this world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God.”559 That is why Christians pray, above all in the Eucharist, to hasten Christ’s return by saying to him:560 Marana tha! “Our Lord, come!”561

672 Before his Ascension Christ affirmed that the hour had not yet come for the glorious establishment of the messianic kingdom awaited by Israel562 which, according to the prophets, was to bring all men the definitive order of justice, love and peace.563 According to the Lord, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by “distress” and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church564 and ushers in the struggles of the last days. It is a time of waiting and watching.565

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History of covenants; God’s love for Israel

The Covenant with Noah

56 After the unity of the human race was shattered by sin God at once sought to save humanity part by part. The covenant with Noah after the flood gives expression to the principle of the divine economy toward the “nations”, in other words, towards men grouped “in their lands, each with [its] own language, by their families, in their nations”.9

57 This state of division into many nations is at once cosmic, social and religious. It is intended to limit the pride of fallen humanity10 united only in its perverse ambition to forge its own unity as at Babel.11 But, because of sin, both polytheism and the idolatry of the nation and of its rulers constantly threaten this provisional economy with the perversion of paganism.12

58 The covenant with Noah remains in force during the times of the Gentiles, until the universal proclamation of the Gospel.13 The Bible venerates several great figures among the Gentiles: Abel the just, the king-priest Melchisedek – a figure of Christ – and the upright “Noah, Daniel, and Job”.14 Scripture thus expresses the heights of sanctity that can be reached by those who live according to the covenant of Noah, waiting for Christ to “gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad”.15

God chooses Abraham

59 In order to gather together scattered humanity God calls Abram from his country, his kindred and his father’s house,16 and makes him Abraham, that is, “the father of a multitude of nations”. “In you all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.”17

60 The people descended from Abraham would be the trustee of the promise made to the patriarchs, the chosen people, called to prepare for that day when God would gather all his children into the unity of the Church.18 They would be the root on to which the Gentiles would be grafted, once they came to believe.19

61 The patriarchs, prophets and certain other Old Testament figures have been and always will be honored as saints in all the Church’s liturgical traditions.

God forms his people Israel

62 After the patriarchs, God formed Israel as his people by freeing them from slavery in Egypt. He established with them the covenant of Mount Sinai and, through Moses, gave them his law so that they would recognize him and serve him as the one living and true God, the provident Father and just judge, and so that they would look for the promised Savior.20

63 Israel is the priestly people of God, “called by the name of the LORD”, and “the first to hear the word of God”,21 the people of “elder brethren” in the faith of Abraham.

64 Through the prophets, God forms his people in the hope of salvation, in the expectation of a new and everlasting Covenant intended for all, to be written on their hearts.22 The prophets proclaim a radical redemption of the People of God, purification from all their infidelities, a salvation which will include all the nations.23 Above all, the poor and humble of the Lord will bear this hope. Such holy women as Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Judith and Esther kept alive the hope of Israel’s salvation. The purest figure among them is Mary.24

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The Old Testament

121 The Old Testament is an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture. Its books are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value,92 for the Old Covenant has never been revoked.

122 Indeed, “the economy of the Old Testament was deliberately so oriented that it should prepare for and declare in prophecy the coming of Christ, redeemer of all men.”93 “Even though they contain matters imperfect and provisional,”94 the books of the Old Testament bear witness to the whole divine pedagogy of God’s saving love: these writings “are a storehouse of sublime teaching on God and of sound wisdom on human life, as well as a wonderful treasury of prayers; in them, too, the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way.”95

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God is Love

218 In the course of its history, Israel was able to discover that God had only one reason to reveal himself to them, a single motive for choosing them from among all peoples as his special possession: his sheer gratuitous love.38 And thanks to the prophets Israel understood that it was again out of love that God never stopped saving them and pardoning their unfaithfulness and sins.39

219 God’s love for Israel is compared to a father’s love for his son. His love for his people is stronger than a mother’s for her children. God loves his people more than a bridegroom his beloved; his love will be victorious over even the worst infidelities and will extend to his most precious gift: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.”40

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The Church’s relationship to the Jewish people

839 “Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways.”325

The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People. When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People,326 “the first to hear the Word of God.”327 The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews “belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ”,328 “for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.”329

840 And when one considers the future, God’s People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus.

— READ IN CONTEXT

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