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Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 9, 2020

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 9, 2020

Deacon Anthony J. Cincotta

Assistant Director for Retreat Ministry

 

First Book of Kings 19:9A, 11:13A

Psalm 85:9, 10-14

Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans 9:1-5

Matthew 14:22-33

 

“Amazing Grace!  How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me!  I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind but now I see.”

I am quite sure that all of us are familiar with the hymn, “Amazing Grace.”  It was written by John Newton an English poet and clergyman and published in 1779.  They hymn gives us the message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of the sins we have committed and that the mercy of God, the Amazing Grace, has since become one of the most recognizable songs in the English spoken word.

 “Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.”

I believe that we can all identify with the fourth verse of “Amazing Grace.”  For the past four months we have all been dealing with COVID-19 and have tried to come through the many dangers, toils and snares of this terrible pandemic.  We were not left to do it on our own.  With the help of prayer it was grace that has brought us safely thus far and we trust that God will continue to be at our side and guide us on.

When many of us are faced with a trial we may be tempted to say, “God doesn’t care about me because He never listens to my prayers for help!”  But I think, in our hearts, we know that God is always faithful and never abandons us and is not the cause of our suffering.  In fact, when you think about it, throughout  world history an incredible amount of suffering has been and is still being caused by the  inhumanity of humans toward other humans.   We can confirm this by simply picking up a newspaper or by listening to “today’s bad news” reports.

So much of this suffering could be avoided if everyone would take the Holy Gospels to heart.  We would have “heaven on earth.”  But since we don’t, and we have to face storms like the disciples in today’s gospel narrative, Jesus catching Peter by the hand is, I think, Jesus’ way of telling us that He is there for all people all of the time in order to catch their hands lead them to safety.   Think about it!  You may be struggling with a problem at this very moment and in need of Our Lord.  Hear His voice as He calls to you the same way He calls to the disciples in the Gospel.  “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”  It is much better to hear those words rather than, as Peter cried out to be saved, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Sisters and brothers, there are two themes that are apparent in our first reading and in the Gospel.  They are themes of call and of fearfulness.  Elijah and Peter both hear the call within their fear and frailty.  After all, they are only men.  Elijah hears something just loud enough to be from God and yet not so loud as to be sure of exactly what it is.  He would have to leave the security of the cave and go back to face his fear.  Elijah is at Horeb where the covenant with Moses was concluded.  The breakdown of faith has overcome Israel.  God commands Elijah to go back and continue his work of being a prophet of the covenant; and he does!

Peter hears the call, responds and it seems Jesus fails him and even tricked him as he sinks into the deep water.  Peter has faith, but fears as well.  It seems that whenever Peter has a failure, Jesus reveals to him, and to all of us as readers of the Gospel, and that He is here for those who can find faith within their fears.  

What then does all of this mean?  When I prepare a couple for marriage I tell them that walking down the aisle is like walking on water.  Commitment, covenant and trust are formed from the love a couple have for each other as they prepare for the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony.   Often times the earthquakes, wind and stormy seas we have heard about in today’s readings are all we hear in a marriage and in our individual lives.  But faith needs doubt to be real and in time God grabs onto us so we can hear His voice saying to us, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”  I would never say to a young couple, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  At one time or another doubt doe’s rear it’s ugly head in all of our lives.  You see, the only sure thing about the unknown is that it is unknown.

I will end by saying to the couples who marry, to the Prophet Elijah, to the disciples on the boat, and to all of us, may God’s  “Amazing Grace” be always with us, through the many dangers, toils and snares and lead us all safely home.

Question of the Day:  Will you stand in humble, grateful awe before the Lord in acknowledgement of the graces you have been given? 

Prayer:  “O my God and my all, in Thy goodness and mercy, grant that before I die I may regain all the graces which I have lost through my carelessness and folly.  Permit me to attain the degree of merit and perfection to which Thou didst desire to lead me, and which I failed by my unfaithfulness to reach.  Mercifully grant also that others regain the graces which they have lost through my fault.  This I humbly beg through the merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Virgin Mary.  Amen.  (Prayer for Grace from Catholic Online.)

Please continue to pray for the victims of the Coronavirus and for all who have been affected by this unprecedented pandemic as well as for peace in our country and in our world.

Prosit

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