The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a; Psalm 85:9-14; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:22-33

First Reading: In the first reading, Elijah takes shelter at Mount Horeb — also called Mount Sinai — where he is to meet God. But this appearance of God is not like the first, when God makes himself known to the Israelites in fire, cloud, and trumpet blast. Elijah lets the wind, the earthquake, and the fire pass by. But when he hears “a tiny whispering sound” he covers his face in reverence, and goes to the mouth of the cave to encounter God not in storm but in stillness.

Psalm 85: Psalm 85 is one of the psalms associated with Advent, when we look to the coming of the Lord. Today, its praise of the God who speaks of peace resonates with the First Reading.

Second Reading: In the second reading, St. Paul begins his lengthy reflection on his Jewish brothers and sisters who did not recognize or accept Jesus as Messiah. Paul grieves deeply for his own people’s failure to recognize Jesus as the Christ (anointed) of God.

Gospel: Following the account of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, Matthew recounts the incident of Jesus walking on water. The entire passage focuses on the manifestation of Jesus as one who speaks and exercises power biblically attributed to God. In the process, his disciples come to deeper awareness of Jesus’ identity, finally acknowledging and worshipping him as Son of God.

Reflection: Many people spend a great deal of time traveling. There are never-ending wondrous sights to behold, new things to discover, and interesting people to meet.  In these many travels, or even in the beauty close to home, people often discover God in nature: the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, the vastness of the oceans, the delicacy of a rose in the backyard. But our Christian faith invites us to discover further that the presence of God is personified in Jesus who remains steadfastly present to us in so many ways. Our discipleship urges us to reach out to him and to come to him.

Jesus is truly the presence of God among us (“Son of God”), revealing what nature can never fully manifest: God acting to save. The greatest power of God is not revealed in the might of nature (wind, earthquake, fire—first reading; strong wind, tossed about by waves—gospel), but in God’s saving us (“Lord, save me!”). Jesus’ simple command to Peter, “Come,” is also a command to us—and, like Peter, it is what saves us, too. Jesus’ command to “Come” is also the command to become his disciples.

Our discipleship is not only about continuing Jesus’ saving work. Discipleship is also about our fulfilling the command Jesus gives to all: to come to him and be saved. Indeed, in the very coming to Jesus for salvation we are exercising the basic work of discipleship: furthering the kingdom of God, a reign in which all are one with Jesus and the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit. We usually think of discipleship as reaching out to others, and it surely is that. Today’s gospel, however, opens up for us another and prior dimension of discipleship—we must reach out to Jesus and be grasped by his saving hand. By this utter intimacy of relationship—reaching out, touching, being saved—we are in a unique relationship with Jesus, a relationship that enables us to be his risen presence in our world and carry forward his saving mission.

Question for reflection: What “hesitation” hinders my discipleship?

Copyright © 2017, Scott W. Eakins. All Rights Reserved.

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