Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 9
As We Continue on Our Daily Journey Through Life, Let Us Never Lose Heart; Let Us Never Be Filled with Needless Fear.
“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” – words we hear our Lord say to us in today’s Gospel, words which are meant to give us confidence and trust in God’s providential Love.
Yet, we know only too well that there are circumstances in life which tend to take away our peace and fill us with anxiety and uncertainty as to our future.
A very clear example of this are the Christians, of whom I have written about in past Meditations, who live in fear in the Middle East, who are a minority when compared to the vast number of people who practice their belief in the teachings of Islam. And it is not the neighboring Muslim whom they fear. Rather, it is the radical extremists who have no tolerance for anyone who does not believe in the prophet Muhammad.
There are also those who live in fear due to the many different tribal wars and conflicts which we read about on the continents of Africa and Australia.
There are some governments, especially including Israel, who are more than just a little concerned about the possibility of Iran becoming a nuclear threat to the security and well-being of Israelis in their own native country!
And for those of us who are old enough to remember when John F. Kennedy was president, how close we came to a nuclear confrontation with the old Soviet Union over the existence of nuclear warheads just ninety some odd miles off-shore in Cuba!
When I was a teenager, I remember there were many families fearful of the possibility of a World War III, and many of them built fall-out shelters in their basements. My own dad, who was a Marine veteran of World War II, was one of them. He and my uncles built shelters in the basements of all their homes.
Even in school, we had practice drills as to what we should do, in case the air raid sirens started to warn us of an incoming nuclear attack by either missiles or bombs. For the Cold War in the fifties and sixties was a stark reality as to the inability of peoples and nations to mutually live together, to listen to each other, to help each other dispel the feelings of fear, and to assist each other in the building of a foundation for peaceful coexistence.
And today, we have many peoples and nations in the Far East fearful that the hate rhetoric spewing out of North Korea may ultimately result in a nuclear confrontation, if not a whole new World War.
Fear can be an emotion which can drive us to do things we would not normally do. Faith, which is a gift from God, a supernatural virtue infused by God into a heart which is opened to and accepting of His gift, can also bring us to do things which are beyond human expectation or rational understanding.
And we see both of these aspects in today’s Gospel with Simon Peter. “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” And Jesus said, “Come.” And in Peter’s love for Christ and because of his faith in Him, Scripture tells us that Peter “…began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
But even in Peter’s fear, he reached out to the One whom he knew could save him. He cried out to the One who could give him back his peace and sense of security!
Unfortunately, there are many in today’s world who no longer call out to God; there are many who have closed their hearts to the gift of faith which our Lord offers us. And, as a very sad consequence, they no longer wish to listen to what God has to say.
As a result, the reality of sin is no longer recognized in their lives, nor do they recognize the consequences which serious sin, without remorse and without forgiveness, may ultimately have upon their souls.
And because they do not fear or respect God, nor do they want Him in their lives, Satan has fertile ground in which to wreak his havoc, the results which cause fear and suffering to continue to plague God’s children, whereas the good suffer due to the ill effects of sin in others throughout the world. And we see this unfolding in our present day in the various riot-torn cities throughout the world!
But even in the midst of all this suffering and sadness, even in the midst of fear and doubt, God is always there. He is there in the Church; He is there in all the unknown Mother Teresa’s throughout the world; He is there in all of God’s ministers who faithfully preach His Divine Truth.
And He is there in both you and me as we reach out through our prayers to all who suffer, as we reach out with love and compassionate understanding to all who are filled with anxiety and uncertainty.
In our First Reading today, the prophet Elijah, who, himself, was driven with fear for his own survival, was told by God to take refuge in a cave on the mountain of Horeb. And then he was told to go outside and wait for God to pass by. And Scripture tells us that Elijah did not find God in the strong winds, the crushing rocks, the earthquake or the fire. Rather, he found God’s Presence in “…a tiny whispering sound.”
We find God in the peace which resides in our hearts, not in the noisy commotion, not in the violent ruckus and confusion which we find in today’s world! We find God in our family and in our neighbors. We find God in each other. We find God in the quiet, in the stillness of our minds and hearts. We find God in the very depths of our individual consciences and our souls.
Sadly, however, for those who are unable to hear God’s voice, who are either unable or unwilling to listen to the whispers of His Loving Presence, then their minds and their consciences can be either misguided or completely closed as to what is right and holy, and as to what is wrong and sinful.
And we find Saint Paul, in our Second Reading, suffering in anguish over this very matter, due to the fact that his own people, the Israelites, who were given “…the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises…” are either unable or unwilling to listen to the voice of God, for many of them refused to accept that Jesus is the Christ, the prophesied Messiah.
As a result, we find in today’s Readings the necessity to be still and listen in order to hear the voice of God, that we must be opened to and receptive of God’s Truth, and that, with the eyes and ears of our hearts and souls, opened to all that God wishes to share with us; we must be strong in our faith and trusting in God’s providential Love for each and every one of us.
Our Lord reaches out with His hand to each of His children, taking hold of us when we are down, just as He did with Peter. But, sometimes, when God’s children are suffering their worst, they need our help to believe, they need our help to have faith in the One who is eternally Faithful.
They need to know that God is not only Truth, but that He is also Love and Mercy. And they will see God in us – if we reach out with love, if we reach out with charity, if we reach out with an openness and honesty to which they have not been given or experienced before.
And then the words of our psalmist, in today’s Responsorial, will come true: “Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven.”
As each of us continue on our daily journey through life, as we encounter, from time to time, our own individual anxieties and uncertainties, let us never lose heart; let us never be filled with needless fear.
With faith, let us always turn to our Lord in times of need; and may we quiet the busyness of our minds, so that we may hear the whispering of Jesus’ voice loud and clear in our hearts:
“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “Peter said to him in reply, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” (Matthew 14:28-30)
- “Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 14:31)
- “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
- “Love and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss. Truth will spring from the earth, and justice will look down from heaven.” (Psalm 85:11-12)
- “In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.” (Ephesians 1:7-8a)
- “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
- “We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8)
- “God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress.” (Psalm 46:2)
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
- “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27b)
Prayer for the Day
“I asked God for strength, that I might achieve; I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey. I asked for health that I might do great things; I was given sickness that I might do better things.
“I asked for riches, that I might be happy; I was given poverty, that I might be wise. I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men; I was given weakness, that I might feel the need for God.
“I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life; I was given life, that I might enjoy all things. I received nothing I asked for – but everything I hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayer was answered; I am, among all men, most richly blessed.”Anonymous Confederate Soldier