Immaculate Conception and St. Dominic, Stone

 

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19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Step Out in Trust – The Lord Will Hold You:

In our Gospel this week, we find the episode of the disciples on the lake in a storm. They are struggling and it seems a losing battle. Jesus, walking on water, approaches them. Peter asks can he go to Jesus and the Lord invites him to do so. As soon as Peter feels the waves he begins to panic and calls out to the Lord Who takes him by the hand. I am sure this is an event we can all identify with. We have all experienced our personal storms: events, issues, demands, setbacks and difficulties. Some come suddenly like the storm disturbing the disciples, others are ongoing and we face the struggle every day. I think especially of the sick and for all carers. We may feel overwhelmed. We often feel out of our depth and we become disappointed in ourselves. We thought we were made of better stuff. We identify with Peter as he starts to sink. How can this Gospel help us? You may say: “I’m alright at the moment, thank you. I have no struggle”. Fine. Maybe you would like to put this Gospel in your medicine chest because you may need it yet. You may know someone who is struggling. Maybe you can use this to help them?

Prayer: Let’s learn from Jesus. He has just miraculously fed over five thousand people, He is tired and needs renewal. There is always a cost to compassion and concern. He spends hours in prayer then He walks on the water. Prayer empowers the Lord. Jesus could not have said what He said, or did the wonderful things He did without a deep sense of communion with His Father. Prayer was never an optional extra for Jesus just because He was God. The Lord needed this time with His Father and so do we. Remember, when the disciples asked Jesus how to pray effectively, He taught them the ‘Our Father’. We all have demanding lives, some more demanding than others. To be a Christian in today’s world is a big ask, and the Lord wants to empower us to succeed. We need to connect in prayer to the Lord Who knows what resources we need for the demands of our life. I am convinced, as I have mentioned before, that the morning offering prayer is vital. It sets us up for all that follows. Our Lord knows what the day will bring to us and He will equip us accordingly. We make sure our phone, fuel tank, account, plastic cards etc., are topped up, we must make sure we a have a store of love, patience, compassion, forbearance, joy and many other gifts if we are to serve the Kingdom of God effectively. A mother found her little girl reaching under the bed to finish dressing herself. The little girl explained: “My Sunday School teacher told us to put one of our shoes under the bed at night. To find it I must go on my knees, which will remind me to say my morning prayer to Jesus”.

Peter gets out of the boat and all is well until he feels the waves. God bless you, Peter! At least you got out of the boat. When we were little children, we would never have learned to walk if we feared what would happen after the first unaided step. We must have just trusted our loving mother and father. One or both was/were in front of us with outstretched arms, smiling and calling us on in tones that reassured us sufficiently to give it a go. Peter offers to come to Jesus. But so often, it is Jesus calling to us. We must first, obey Jesus Who calls us out of our comfort/secure zone and trust God to catch us if we fall. There is no progress for us without an element of risk. Peter takes the risk and God is not displeased with him. Peter was a mixture of courage and anxiety and, for a moment, he let his anxiety get the upper hand and he began to sink. The sailor’s home is the boat, not the sea. Peter set aside his natural fear and steps out. I feel Jesus is also talking to the people still in the boat when he speaks of little faith. Peter’s little faith is different to his friends. Our Lord will do a lot with Peter’s faith. We are asked to step out into the deep for the love of the Lord and the needs of others around us. We must not hesitate, or flinch or recoil from what must be done. We must call out to the Lord Who will hold us. This is not a sign of weakness; it is our necessary source of strength. He will get us to the other side of the lake. He will bring us to succeed in what love asks of us.

We could say, at this difficult time with the virus, we feel, like Peter, a little courage but also anxiety. This can cause us to feel uncertain and inhibited and unlikely to ‘step outside’ too far for the Lord. But we must trust that the Lord will keep us safe and we can still do great work for Him. Let us, on behalf of humanity, call out Lord, help us! We can perform this important service of intercessory prayer in our isolation. Remember the loaves and fishes. “Do not be afraid” is said by God more times than any other divine phrase in the Scriptures. Maybe the disciples later looked at Peter and took some encouragement from his experience when he reached out to the Lord. We are frail like everyone else, but we have faith, be it little or great. Let our presence among people bring reassurance that the storm will pass, to trust God is in control, no enduring harm can come to us. After all, we are all in the same boat.

 

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