Readings and Reflections

 

St Peter’s/St Joseph’s Bidding Prayers
8th / 9th August 2020

 

Priest:
Jesus, the eternal Word, has power over everything that exists in the universe.   And yet he has time to listen to our requests.   We stand before him to make our petitions.

Reader:
Today is a day of prayer for Europe:   We pray for all the countries that make up our continent, especially those most affected by Coronavirus.
Lord in your mercy.

We pray for those who work at sea:   May the Lord protect them from the perils they face on a daily basis.                                             

 Lord in your mercy.

We pray for those who want to deepen their faith in God:   May they see him as the one whose power is to be found in gentleness.
Lord in your mercy.

We pray for those in neighbouring parishes where lockdown measures have been reintroduced:   May we all do our part to defeat this virus.
Lord in your mercy.  

We commend to the loving mercy of the Father in heaven those who have died recently and those whose anniversaries occur at about this time:  Purified by God, may they all find rest from their labours.                         

Lord in your mercy.
Elijah found God in the gentle voice that passed in front of his cave.   Let us listen to what that voice might be saying to us today.
 [After a pause]                                                                                

Lord in your mercy.

Mary would have taught Jesus to be aware of the wonders of nature that he himself has made.   We can ask her to pray with us.                             Hail Mary….

Priest:   Father in heaven, you sent us Jesus to teach us about your love.  We make these prayers today in his name for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.     Amen.

 

 

 

Reflection for 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Sunday, 9th August 2020

If you do not have a copy of the missalette, you can find today’s readings at www.universalis .com

 

As I mentioned last week, the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes is one of those events in the life of Jesus that occurs in all four gospels.   Curiously too, all four gospels follow the story with the miracle of today’s gospel – Jesus walking on the water.   However, Matthew is the only one of the four to recall Peter’s part in the event, how he asked the Lord to command him to step out of the boat and come to him.   When Peter starts to sink, Jesus chides him for his lack of faith.   To my mind it took an incredible amount of faith to be able to step out of the boat in the first place!   Today I want to explore the meaning of this miracle story and its connection to the feeding of the 5,000.   The first witnesses to the resurrection must have seen them as inextricably linked.

 

It is clear to see the need that gave rise to the miraculous feeding:   They were in a lonely place, Jesus had been teaching all day, there was no food available, Jesus wanted to teach them a deeper understanding of how God sustains us physically and spiritually.   There was a risk:   John in particular points out that many of those who subsequently followed Jesus did so in the hope of another meal!   However, the lesson to be learnt by far outweighed these undesirable consequence.

 

The miracle of the walking of the water falls into a different category.   To begin with, it was only witnessed by the 12 in the boat.   It was something Jesus did just for them to strengthen their faith.   It does not meet a pressing human need.   Feeding people who are hungry or curing people who are sick is a response to the limitations of the human condition.   Walking on the water, on the other hand, does not supply something that is missing to be a healthy human being.   So what is the purpose of this miracle?

 

Jesus needs to reveal to the 12 who he is in order to prepare them for the scandal of the cross and to be ready to open their minds to the meaning of the resurrection.   Jesus, as the eternal Word, assisted God in the creation of the cosmos.   Together they put in place the energy that would make up all of the atoms of all of the stars of all of the galaxies of which we are a tiny part.   What is more, they not only created matter, but they defined the rules that determined the physical properties of all that we can see and touch.   Some substances we perceive as being solid, some liquid and some as gas, but only because of the way in which the tiny particles that make them up are interrelated to each other.   Jesus wanted to show that the one who made the rules can also break the rules.   So at this given moment in time, the properties of water, solids and the inevitable force of gravity was suspended by the one who had set up the arrangement in the first place.

 

Peter gets an inkling of what is going on.   What Jesus is doing defies all of his prior experience of the way in which things should interact with each other.   So if Jesus can do this for himself, he should be able to do it for him as well.   So Peter askes Jesus to command him to do something he knows should not be possible.   He wants to be told to leave the safety of the boat and join Jesus in walking on the water.   For a moment he succeeds, but them his awareness of nature overpowers his faith in Jesus, and he fails.   Fortunately Jesus is there, willing to extend a hand to save Peter from drowning.

 

This graphically prefigures the next time Jesus will extend not just one hand, but both hands to save us from being drowned in our sins.   On the cross, once more, Jesus is there to pull us up from our human weaknesses that are dragging us down.   This makes us ready to perceive the truth of the resurrection.   The one who made the rules now breaks the rules to show that death is in fact only an illusion and that we are destined for a future where sin and death have no part to play.   By recording this story, the four evangelists have ensured that the event was not simply to strengthen the 12 to understand the paschal mystery, but we too are prepared to understand the inner meaning of what happened on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  Humbly we ask Jesus for the gift of faith.

 

One final reflection.   In the first reading Elijah stands before the cave waiting for God to reveal himself.   He is surprised to find that God was not in the mighty wind, or the earthquake, or in the fire, but rather in the gentle breeze.   How does God want to surprise me today?