Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, August 8, 2017 — “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Memorial of Saint Dominic, Priest
Lectionary: 408

Image result for jesus walking on water, art

Jesus Walking on the Water by Norbert McNulty

Reading 1 NM 12:1-13

Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses on the pretext
of the marriage he had contracted with a Cushite woman.
They complained, “Is it through Moses alone that the LORD speaks?
Does he not speak through us also?”
And the LORD heard this.
Now, Moses himself was by far the meekest man on the face of the earth.
So at once the LORD said to Moses and Aaron and Miriam,
“Come out, you three, to the meeting tent.”
And the three of them went.
Then the LORD came down in the column of cloud,
and standing at the entrance of the tent,
called Aaron and Miriam.

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The LORD guided them with a pillar of cloud — and at night by fire

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When both came forward, he said,
“Now listen to the words of the LORD:

Should there be a prophet among you,
in visions will I reveal myself to him,
in dreams will I speak to him;
not so with my servant Moses!
Throughout my house he bears my trust:
face to face I speak to him;
plainly and not in riddles.
The presence of the LORD he beholds.

Why, then, did you not fear to speak against my servant Moses?”

So angry was the LORD against them that when he departed,
and the cloud withdrew from the tent,
there was Miriam, a snow-white leper!
When Aaron turned and saw her a leper, he said to Moses,
“Ah, my lord! Please do not charge us with the sin
that we have foolishly committed!
Let her not thus be like the stillborn babe
that comes forth from its mother’s womb
with its flesh half consumed.”
Then Moses cried to the LORD, “Please, not this! Pray, heal her!”

Responsorial Psalm  PS 51:3-4, 5-6AB, 6CD-7, 12-13

R. (see 3a) Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
For I acknowledge my offense;
and my sin is before me always:
“Against you only have I sinned;
and done what is evil in your sight.”
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
That you may be justified in your sentence,
vindicated when you condemn.
Indeed, in guilt was I born,
and in sin my mother conceived me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not off from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

AlleluiaJN 1:49B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Rabbi, you are the Son of God;
you are the King of Israel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  MT 14:22-36

Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side of the sea,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them, walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
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!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
“Truly, you are the Son of God.”

After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret.
When the men of that place recognized him,
they sent word to all the surrounding country.
People brought to him all those who were sick
and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak,
and as many as touched it were healed.

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The blind leading the blind by James Tissot

Or  MT 15:1-2, 10-14

The following text may be substituted,
especially in Year A when the above Gospel is read on Monday.

Some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said,
“Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders?
They do not wash their hands when they eat a meal.”
He summoned the crowd and said to them, “Hear and understand.
It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles the man;
but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one.”
Then his disciples approached and said to him,
“Do you know that the Pharisees took offense
when they heard what you said?”
He said in reply, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted
will be uprooted.

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Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind.
If a blind man leads a blind man,
both will fall into a pit.”

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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08 AUGUST, 2017, Tuesday, 18th Week, Ordinary Time
SPEAKING OUT AGAINST THE LORD’S APPOINTED LEADERS

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ NUM 12:1-13Ps 50:3-7,12-13Mt 15:1-210-14 ]

In the first reading we read that Moses was the Lord’s appointed leader.  This was what the Lord said of him, “If any man among you is a prophet I make myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream.  Not so with my servant Moses: he is at home in my house; I speak with him face to face, plainly and not in riddles, and he sees the form of the Lord.”  Such was the great trust and love the Lord had showered upon Moses, His servant.

But some were not happy with Moses.  As usual, leaders would speak ill of other leaders.  They like to discredit other leaders so that they would be seen in a better light.  Miriam and Aaron, the relatives of Moses, spoke against him “in connection with the Cushite woman he had taken. (For he had married a Cushite woman.) They said, ‘Has the Lord spoken to Moses only? Has he not spoken to us too?’”  In these words, we hear the undertones of their discontentment.  It was not so much that Moses married a Cushite woman even though there could be some grounds for it as inter-marriages were forbidden later.  But before that, no such prohibition existed.  At any rate, God did not defend Moses on his marriage to an alien woman.

Jesus said to Miriam and Aaron, “How then have you dared to speak against my servant Moses?”  Is it wrong to criticize our leaders? In the gospel, Jesus was always criticizing the Jewish leaders, the Pharisees and the Scribes. In the gospel today, in response to the Jewish leaders’ complaint that His “disciples break away from the tradition of the elders” because “they do not wash their hands when they eat food’, Jesus said, “What goes into the mouth does not make a man unclean; it is what comes out of the mouth that makes him unclean.”   And the disciples told the Lord, “Do you know that the Pharisees were shocked when they heard what you said?”

Jesus was not against tradition.  Human beings create traditions as a way to express themselves.  No religious institution is spared from traditions.  We have Roman Catholic tradition, Orthodox tradition, Methodist tradition, Anglican tradition, etc.  Each organization and institution will have their traditions to regulate the conduct of the members and to help them to express their values through practices.   So traditions, even though man-made, are good and helpful for the community.

But traditions must serve the truth or the laws of the bible and ultimately the service and love of God and our fellowmen.   Traditions cannot be a law unto themselves, but they are placed there to serve the laws.  This means that traditions can change and must change according to the needs of the time.  Even in the bible, we see how traditions and practices changed over time, whether it is with regard to marriage, ablutions, food restrictions, slavery, etc.  Small traditions that are not divinely ordained but man-made have a place in the expression of our faith and the community.  However, foundation traditions passed on by the Lord cannot be changed because they are critical to the faith.  This is called Tradition with a capital “T”, and singular.  It refers to the basic doctrines of the faith, like the Passion, Death and the Resurrection of our Lord, the Trinity, the Eucharist, the Sacraments, the Priesthood, etc.  These do not change with time, unlike those traditions that serve to enhance the Tradition of the Church.

In the final analysis, Jesus made it clear that whatever traditions we have must serve God and humanity;  “Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and so passes on?  But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man.  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.  These are what defile a man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”  (Mt 15:17-20)

So we can criticize leaders provided our motives are clear.  What God was unhappy about was the way they maligned the character of Moses.  They were jealous of Moses’ authority.  They envied his position.  Instead of dealing with their own insecurity, they found an excuse to denigrate Moses and weaken his authority over the people.   Indeed, this is often the case of many of us who are not happy with our leaders.  We think we are better than them.  We feel we should be sitting in their chairs and holding their offices.  Those who are not elected or appointed to the office would often find trouble and means to discredit the leader so that they could be appointed or be seen to be better than the leader.  Instead of examining their motives, they find reasons to bring down the authority of the leader.  This is very true in politics, in the corporate world and even in religious institutions.  Envy and jealousy can cause much backbiting, slander and division.

So for those of us who wish to criticize our leaders, we must be sure that we are objective and do not have an axe to grind or because we have unmentioned or unconscious motives that spring from pride, recognition, power, glory and envy.  Before we criticize the appointed leaders, we must purify our intentions so that we speak not with the intention of destroying the leaders or diminishing their authority but to help them to serve better. The motive must be constructive, not destructive.  And for this reason, unhappiness with the leaders should be dealt with behind closed doors and through dialogue which helps both parties to understand each other better.  Often, criticisms are made because of one-sided information or even skewed and distorted information that lead people to make presumptuous judgment on the actions of their leaders.  If we are sincere, such criticisms are always made with charity and humility.

For those of us who are leaders under scrutiny and critique, we must also take such criticisms positively and sincerely search our conscience to see where we have failed and where we can change and do better.  Leaders are not beyond reproach. They too must listen to the prophets sent by the Lord to assist us.  Instead of being defensive and reactive, we should be humble, like Moses.  We read that “Moses was the most humble of men, the humblest man on earth.”  Instead of retaliating against Miriam and Aaron, he was quiet.  He did not fight back but humbly suffered the harsh critique against him.  He was ever forgiving and interceded for Miriam, “O God, please heal her, I beg you!”

But there is also a warning.  For those of us who are quick to judge and condemn the appointed leaders of the Lord, we will also be judged accordingly.  As Jesus in the gospel said, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”  (Lk 6:37f)  For judging Moses and making rash remarks, Miriam was punished by the Lord.  “The anger of the Lord blazed out against them.  He departed, and as soon as the cloud withdrew from the Tent, there was Miriam a leper, white as snow! Aaron turned to look at her; she had become a leper.”

Similarly in the gospel, Jesus warned leaders who do not act rightly or are themselves ignorant and blind.  “Any plant my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.  Leave them alone.  They are blind men leading blind men; and if one blind man leads another, both will fall into a pit.”   If leaders do not live up to the trust of God for the office given to them, they would be removed eventually.   And if leaders themselves are blind, ignorant and still very broken, it is more likely that instead of leading their sheep, they might bring them to perdition.  So leaders must ask themselves whether they are in a position to lead because of the lack of integrity and wisdom in their own lives.

Whether we are critics or leaders who are criticized, let us turn to God for mercy and forgiveness.  Leaders surely have their failures and those who are very critical of leaders often do so without charity or out of selfish interests.  Hence, like Aaron, we must cry out to God, “Help me, my lord! Do not punish us for a sin committed in folly of which we are guilty.”   With the psalmist, we pray, “Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offence. O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. My offences truly I know them; my sin is always before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned; what is evil in your sight I have done.  That you may be justified when you give sentence and be without reproach when you judge, O see, in guilt I was born, a sinner was I conceived.”   Indeed, only God can pass the sentence; not us.  Only God who knows all and reads the intentions of our hearts can judge justly and with mercy.  And that was what He did, He lightened the punishment of Miriam to just a week of alienation outside the camp before He healed her. (cf Num 12:14f)  We too must turn to the Lord for mercy and forgiveness for our lack of humility, integrity and compassion.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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Commentary on Matthew 14:22-36 From Living Space

As soon as the people had been filled with the food that Jesus gave them, Jesus packs his disciples off in the boat to the other side of the lake. He sends the crowds away and then retreats to the mountain to pray all by himself.

We know from John’s account that the people wanted to make him a king. If Jesus wanted to take control of the crowd this was the moment; they were ready to follow enthusiastically. Jesus was indeed their king but not the kind they were expecting. He would draw the crowds to him in a very different way, hanging in shame on a cross.

It looks too as if he did not want his disciples to get any wrong ideas either. They must have been elated at their role in the extraordinary event of feeding more than 5,000 people. So, perhaps with a lot of grumbling, they are sent off even before the excited crowds have dispersed.

As they make their way across the lake in this dark mood, things get even worse. They run into a big storm and their boat is being tossed about like a cork. Then, out of the darkness, between 3 and 6 in the morning hours, they see Jesus approaching them across the water. Far from being delighted, they are terrified out of their wits. Superstitious men that they are, they think it is a ghost. Ghosts were very much a part of their world.

Words of encouragement come across the water: “Courage! It is I [Greek,ego eimi, ‘ego ‘eimi] = I AM]. Do not be afraid.” Jesus gives himself the very name of Yahweh; this is all the reassurance they need. Their God is with them.

Only in Matthew’s account of this story do we have Peter’s reaction. “Lord, if it really is you, tell me to come to you across the water.”

“Come!”

Peter gets out of the boat and goes towards Jesus. It is an act of love and faith/trust. But not quite enough. The power of the wind and waves gets stronger than his desire to be with Jesus. He begins to sink. “Lord, save me!” Jesus lifts him up, “How little faith/trust you have!”

As soon as Jesus and Peter get into the boat, there is a complete calm.

The rest of the disciples are overwhelmed: “Truly, you are the Son of God.”

We have here behind this story an image of the early Church, of which the boat and the disciples are a symbol. The surrounding water is the world and the wind and waves, the forces which threaten the tiny community. Jesus seems to be far away but he is not and he appears in the midst of the storm. Once he steps inside the boat, there is calm, not only because the surrounding storm has stopped but also because of the peace which the awareness of Jesus’ presence gives.

There is an added element in this story in that Peter, the leader of the community, comes hand in hand into the boat with Jesus. In time, the authority of Jesus will be passed over to him.

There is also, of course, in the calming of the storm an indication of Jesus’ real identity, expressed in the awe-filled words of the disciples, “Truly, you are the Son of God”, echoing Jesus’ own statement of “I AM”.

There is a brief epilogue at the end of our passage. The boat reaches the area of Gennesaret. The name refers either to the narrow plain, about four miles long and less than two miles wide on the north-west shore of the Sea of Galilee, north of Magdala, or to a town in the plain. Significantly for the work that Jesus was about to do, the plain was considered a garden land, fertile and well watered.

As soon as Jesus reaches the shore the crowds again gather in huge numbers especially to have their sick cured. So great was their faith that they asked only to touch the fringe of his garment. All those who did so (in faith) were healed.

Jesus had sent away the crowds earlier probably because of the late hour but also perhaps because of the mood of the crowd which was taking on political overtones not wanted by Jesus.

But now they are back to seek from him what he came to give them: healing and wholeness.

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/o2183g/

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First Thoughts from Peace and Freedom
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Today’s Gospel tells us again to keep in mind one of the most often repeated lessons from Jesus: DO NOT BE AFRAID.
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The Gospel tells us “Do not be afraid” — but today the saints tell us also to “speak the truth.” These are rare things in the world today. Having a real relationship with God allows us to overcome our fears, ourselves and the drag of our modern society. Be alive and joyful as God expects from us. It seems as if “Do Not Be Afraid” is one of the most frequent messages in the Gospels. Link to some of the other scripture references to do not be afraid:
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If we love God we follow God’s commandments. Once we are doing those things we seek a stronger and stronger personal relationship with Jesus — and everything is OK.
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St. John Vianney is one wonderful saint we can all follow: just work hard and pray. Live simply. He ate small meals and slept on a small cot. Mostly he heard confessions and served as God’s instrument of forgiveness. We should all go to confession more and keep ourselves ‘clean.”
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From Catholic OnLine:
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Accustomed to the most severe austerities, beleaguered by swarms of penitents, and besieged by the devil, this great mystic manifested a imperturbable patience. He was a wonderworker loved by the crowds, but he retained a childlike simplicity, and he remains to this day the living image of the priest after the heart of Christ.

He heard confessions of people from all over the world for the sixteen hours each day. His life was filled with works of charity and love. It is recorded that even the staunchest of sinners were converted at his mere word. He died August 4, 1859, and was canonized May 31, 1925.

http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=399

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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
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Reflection
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The Gospel today describes the difficult and tiresome crossing of the sea of Galilee in a fragile boat, pushed by a contrary wind. Between the discourse of the Parables (Mt 13) and of the Community (Mt 18), there is once again, the narrative part (Mt 14 to 17). The discourse of the Parables calls our attention again on the presence of the Kingdom. Now, the narrative part shows the reactions in favour and against Jesus provoked by that presence. In Nazareth, he was not accepted (Mt 13, 53-58) and King Herod thought that Jesus was a sort or reincarnation of John the Baptist, whom he had murdered (Mt 14, 1-12).
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The poor people, though, recognized in Jesus the one who had been sent by God and they followed him to the desert, where the multiplication of the loaves took place (Mt 14, 13-21). After the multiplication of the loaves, Jesus takes leave of the crowd and ordered the disciples to cross the lake, as it is described in today’s Gospel (Mt 14, 22-36).
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• Matthew 14, 22-24: To begin the crossing asked by Jesus. Jesus obliges the Disciples to go into the boat and to go toward the other side of the sea, where the land of the pagans was. He goes up to the mountain to pray. The boat symbolizes the community. It has the mission to direct itself toward the pagans and to announce among them the Good News of the Kingdom also, which was the new way of living in community. But the crossing was very tiring and long. The boat is agitated by the wave, because the wind is contrary. In spite of having rowed the whole night, there is still a great distance left before reaching the land.
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Much was still lacking in the community in order to be able to cross and go toward the pagans. Jesus did not go with his disciples. They had to learn to face together the difficulties, united and strengthened by faith in Jesus who had sent them. The contrast is very great: Jesus is in peace together with God, praying on the top of the mountain, and the Disciples are almost lost there below, in the agitated sea.
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• The crossing to the other side of the lake symbolizes also the difficult crossing of the community at the end of the first century. They should get out of the closed world of the ancient observance of the law toward the new manner of observing the Law of love., taught by Jesus; they should abandon the knowledge of belonging to the Chosen People, privileged by God among all other peoples, for the certainty that in Christ all peoples would be united into one Only People before God; they should get out from isolation and intolerance toward the open world of acceptance and of gratitude. Today also, we are going through a difficult crossing toward a new time and a new way of being Church.
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A difficult crossing, but which is necessary. There are moments in life in which we are attacked by fear. Good will is not lacking, but this is not sufficient. We are like a boat faced with the contrary wind.
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• Matthew 14, 25-27: Jesus comes close to them but they do not recognize him. Toward the end of the night, that is between three and six o’clock in the morning, Jesus goes to meet the Disciples. Walking on the water, he gets close to them, but they did not recognize him. They cried out in fear, thinking that it was a ghost. Jesus calms them down saying: “Courage! It is me! Do not be afraid!” The expression “It is me!” is the same one with which God tried to overcome the fear of Moses when he sent him to liberate the people from Egypt (Ex 3, 14). For the communities, of today as well as for those of yesterday, it was and it is very important to be always open to novelty: “Courage. It is me!. Do not be afraid!”
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• Matthew 14, 28-31: Enthusiasm and weakness of Peter. Knowing that it is Jesus, Peter asks that he also can walk on the water. He wants to experience the power which dominates the fury of the sea. This is a power which in the bible belongs only to God (Gn 1, 6; Ps 104, 6-9). Jesus allows him to participate in this power. But Peter is afraid. He thinks that he will sink and he cries out: “Lord, save me!” Jesus assures him and takes hold of him and reproaches him: “You have so little faith! Why did you doubt?” Peter has more strength than he imagined, but is afraid before the contrary waves and does not believe in the power of God which dwells within him. The communities do not believe in the force of the Spirit which is within them and which acts through faith. It is the force of the Resurrection (Eph 1, 19-20).
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• Matthew 14, 32-33:Jesus is the Son of God. Before the waves that come toward them, Peter begins to sink in the sea because of lack of faith. After he is saved, he and Jesus, both of them, go into the boat and the wind calms down. The other Disciples, who are in the boat, are astonished and bowed before Jesus, recognizing that he is the Son of God: “Truly, you are the Son of God”. Later on, Peter also professes the same faith in Jesus: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” (Mt 16,16). In this way Matthew suggests that it is not only Peter who sustains the faith of the Disciples, but also that the faith of the Disciples sustains Peter’s faith.
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• Matthew 14, 34-36: They brought all the sick to him. The episode of the crossing ends with something beautiful: “Having made the crossing they came to Gennesaret. When the local people recognized him they spread the news through the whole neighbourhood and took all who were sick to him, begging him just to let them tough the fringe of his cloak. And all those who touched it were saved”.
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Personal questions
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• Has there been a contrary wind in your life? What have you done to overcome it? Has this happened sometimes in the community? How was it overcome?
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• Which is the crossing which the communities are doing today? From where to where? How does all this help us to recognize today the presence of Jesus in the contrary waves of life?
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Concluding Prayer
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Keep me far from the way of deceit,
grant me the grace of your Law.
I have chosen the way of constancy,
I have moulded myself to your judgements. (Ps 119,29-30)
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From 2016:

Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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02 AUGUST 2016, Tuesday, 18th Week of Ordinary Time
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JESUS SAVES

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  JER 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22; MT 14:22-36 OR MT 15:1-2, 10-14  ]

The scripture readings today clearly demonstrate the mercy and compassion of God to save His people from all situations of life, including sins and the consequences of sin.  He has come to forgive us our sins, heal us and restore us to fullness of life, both as individuals and as a community.  The psalmist says, “Let this be written for ages to come that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord; for the Lord leaned down from his sanctuary on high. He looked down from heaven to the earth that he might hear the groans of the prisoners and free those condemned to die.”

In the first reading, we read of the mercy and compassion of God.  The people of Israel in their arrogance during their time of prosperity forgot all about God, His laws and the Covenant.  The people were divided.  The poor were oppressed and the rich were living off the poor. There was great social injustice. Above all, they turned to foreign gods instead of worshipping the Lord.  As a consequence, they were conquered by the Babylonians and were exiled.  The prophet reminded the people not to look upon their misery as God abandoning them.  Rather, the punishments inflicted on them by their enemy were permitted by God so that they could turn back to Him.  The truth, as the Lord said, was that their sinfulness had gone beyond redemption.  “Your wound is incurable, your injury past healing. There is no one to care for your sore, no medicine to make you well again.  All your lovers have forgotten you; they look for you no more.”

In the gospel Jesus, as the fulfillment of the Old Testament, came to restore the Kingdom of God.  He is the compassion and mercy of God in person.  We read at the beginning of the gospel how Jesus in His compassion and consideration for the safety of His disciples sent them away. “Jesus made the disciples get into the boat, and go on ahead to the other side while he would send the crowds away.”  This was because, as St John’s gospel noted, the people wanted to make Him king after seeing the miracle of the loaves.  That would have caused political tensions with the Romans and the authorities.  So in order to calm the situation, He got the disciples out of the scene and quietly “went up into the hills.”

However, when He knew that His disciples were in a crisis, He came to their rescue.  Although they were professional and experienced fishermen, they were “battling with a heavy sea, for there was a head-wind.”   Knowing their predicament, “he went towards them, walking on the lake.”  Even in His desire to be alone to think through His ministry arising from the misunderstanding of His messiahship as a political revolutionary, Jesus came to the help of His disciples in their time of need.  He felt the need to give them assurance as He “called out to them, saying, ‘Courage! It is I!  Do not be afraid.’”  Indeed, the Lord demonstrated His mercy and compassion with this one desire to save all.

The compassion of Jesus is once again seen when Jesus reached the shore at Genesaret: “the whole neighbourhood…took all that were sick to him, begging him just to let them touch the fringe of his cloak.  And all those who touched it were completely cured.”  Jesus did not stop them from coming to Him even though they came only for a physical cure.  However, Jesus did not come just to save our bodies but our souls as well.  He came to give us eternal life through His word and our union with the Father.  But He allowed the people to come to Him for healing nonetheless, knowing that at this point the only way for them to encounter the presence of God was through His presence and His healing power. He did not drive them away or scold them for their superstition.  Rather, He adapted Himself to the spiritual maturity of His people as it was thought that by touching the tassels of a holy man they would be healed.  He knew that conversion is not the result of preaching alone but also through good deeds and works of compassion. This is the only way to let people know and be convinced that God really cares for them.

What, then, is needed for us to be healed by the Lord?  Firstly, we need to grow in humility.  Without this virtue, we will be too proud to turn to the Lord.  That is why God allows us to suffer tragedy and disappointments in life so that we know our place in the world.  Otherwise, some people may think that they are gods!  The mercy of God at times is ironically given through suffering.  The Lord said to Israel, “Why bother to complain about your wound.  Your pain is incurable. So great is your guilt, so many your sins, that I have done all this to you.”    Most of us will come to realize our nothingness and finiteness only when we are in a crisis.  So long as life is good to us and we are doing well, we think that success and happiness is our creation.  It is only when we are stripped of everything, including our health and freedom, that we come to realize that man is not so mighty after all.  We are powerless in the face of illness and death.  Yet, through our sufferings, we gain our sobriety and, humiliated by the Lord, we turn back to him.

Secondly, if we want to be saved, we need to have confidence in the Lord. We are assured that the moment we return to the Lord in faith and confidence, He will once again hear our prayers.  “The nations shall fear the name of the Lord and all the earth’s kings your glory, when the Lord shall build up Zion again and appear in all his glory. Then he will turn to the prayers of the helpless; he will not despise their prayers.”  Indeed, even as the Israelites suffered much during their exile, they were given hope of restoration to something even greater than they had. “Now I will restore the tents of Jacob, and take pity on his dwellings:  the city shall be rebuilt on its ruins, the citadel restored on its site.”  Not only will the city and temple be restored by Ezra and Nehemiah but they would once again gather together as the People of God and their rulers restored to power.  Of course, the fullness of this restoration is in Christ who is the Universal King, the Son of David.  But like St Peter we need to cry out for help with fervor and humility.

Thirdly, the faith that is needed is a confession of Jesus as the Son of God.  Jesus said, “’Man of little faith,’ he said ‘why did you doubt?’  And as they got into the boat the wind dropped.  The men in the boat bowed down before him and said, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’” This is the height of the Christian profession of faith. Indeed, with that little faith in Him, as in the case of St Peter, the Lord will come to our help.  He does not expect us to have total faith for Him to cure or heal us.  But at least, like St Peter, we must in faith cry out to Him for help.

Finally, salvation is given only to those who keep their eyes on Jesus.  The problem with St Peter and all of us is that when we have difficulties in life, instead of looking toward the Lord for solution, wisdom and strength, we either turn to our fellowmen, our “horses and chariots” or, worse still, turn to ourselves and descend further into depression because of fear and anxiety.  St Peter was doing well until he took his eyes off the Lord and focused on the waters.  Indeed, if we were to walk a tightrope, we do not look down because we would be struck with fear because of the height.  Rather, we must look straight so that we can maintain our balance.  So, too, in our faith journey our eyes must always be kept on the Lord at all times.   With Jesus in the center of our lives, in our boats, we will never have to fear because He will give us the calmness and sobriety to think through and battle the trials of life.  And even if, like St Peter, we fail half-way in our faith in Him, the Lord will come to our aid.  He will not allow us to fail if we put our trust in Him.

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The Storm Burdened under the stress and anxiety from days of pondering and searching for the Messiah, Peter, soon to be the apostle, was working diligently casting his nets. Suddenly, supernatural power engulfed him and he heard a voice flow all around him. This voice cleared Peter’s weary and distraught mind and filled his very being with comfort.

One man, a Nazarene, had spoken: “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” The power with which these words overshadowed the fishermen dissolved any doubt in his mind as to who the person was.

Peter had found him. This was the Messiah of Israel. As he felt the awesome power of the Christ, he immediately forsook his nets and followed the “perfect” stranger… Months later, Peter would again experience this identifying power and assurance. When sailing upon the Galilean Sea one night, a gale of hurricane force swept upon the disciples. As they attempted to steady their small boat, the seasoned fishermen realized that their very lives were in danger.

Suddenly, without warning, they saw a sight that caused them to temporarily forget about the storm at hand. Their fear was replaced with genuine horror as they saw what seemed to be an apparition walking upon the water. The person was not effected by the elements! Was it a spirit?

The water did not swallow him and his clothes did not blow in the wind! They cried, “It’s a ghost!” Then a calm voice sounded above the rage of the storm, “Be Not Afraid, It Is I”.

Suddenly, Peter remembered the first time he felt the power of the voice of Jesus. It was on dry land when He had called him by saying “Come, Follow Me….” Peter knew if it were him, he could tell it again by this power a second time. He spoke, “Lord, if it is you, bid me `Come’ unto you on the water.” Then the figure standing upon the sea spoke with the same power… “COME.” It was Him!

Again Peter felt the awesome power of God envelope him and lift him from the boat and out onto the water. He took one step, two steps, and then another, each time stepping on the power of the word of Christ Jesus, bidding him “Come”.

Each step carried Peter closer and closer to the Creator of the Universe, the Lamb of God. The words of Him that spoke the world into being now with power and authority led Peter beyond the distance of his ability to swim back. As he looked around, his face broadcast these words…”I don’t believe this!”

According to the testimony etched in his expression, Peter began to sink. He fearfully cried out, “Lord save me!” Jesus stretched forth his hand and lifted him up from the sea and then walked him back to the boat where He asked him “Why did you doubt?”

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One Response to “Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, August 8, 2017 — “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?””

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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