For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081317.cfm
Having once been in a boat when a storm suddenly came up, you can perhaps understand why, whenever I’m on a boat, I always make sure there are enough life jackets to go around and that one is within arm’s reach. Given this experience, I also have a great deal of sympathy for the disciples in our Gospel this weekend. We are told that after Jesus had fed the people, he “made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side.” Unfortunately a storm came up and the boat “was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.” Suddenly Jesus came walking toward them, but “when the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost,’ they said, and they cried out in fear.” Jesus identified himself and told them not to be afraid. Peter, though, said: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus said “Come.” Unfortunately, no sooner had Peter started walking on the water than he began to sink like a stone. He cried out to Jesus who “stretched out his hand and caught Peter.” After they had got into the boat the wind died down. The disciples then did Jesus homage saying: “Truly, you are the Son of God.”
Not being a very strong swimmer, I can understand the disciples’ panic in the face of the storm at sea. It is interesting, though, that their fear continued even when they saw Jesus walking toward them on the water. And ultimately it was only when Jesus got in the boat with them that the storm ceased and their fear ended. This suggests to me that perhaps if we invited Jesus into our lives more often we would be less fearful and bolder in our efforts at living our faith.
Our first reading this weekend is taken from the first Book of Kings. In it Elijah is on Mount Horeb and God said to him; “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will be passing by.” Elijah did not find God in the strong wind, or an earthquake, or in fire, but rather in a “tiny whispering sound.” Along with the Gospel, this story reminds us that God is sometimes found in places we wouldn’t expect.
Our second reading this weekend is again taken from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans. In it Paul laments over those who refuse to accept the Gospel.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- In the Gospel and in the first reading for this weekend God is found in unexpected places. Where have you found God’s unexpected presence in your life?
- Has there been a time when you were afraid or fearful, and then suddenly realized God’s presence?
- Paul lamented that some people had refused to accept the Gospel. What would you say to someone who had rejected the Gospel?