Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 115

Then the LORD said to him, "Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by."

Periodically, emperors, tyrants and kings have to remind their subjects who is in charge and that resistance is futile, so they organize a parade. They march in all their finery through the major streets of a city along with their army. In the old days the entourage would include knights in shining armor on powerful warhorses; today it includes soldiers, tanks and ICBMs. Goose-stepping soldiers are especially impressive. For good measure, the marchers might stop periodically and twirl their swords, knives or rifles. Local boys go crazy at this display of derring-do and want to enlist, especially when they see their girlfriends swooning over the uniforms.
There are a few places in scripture when we hear of God's passing-by, an event which proves to be an overwhelming display of power and authority. On a Sunday not long ago we heard of God casting a spell over Abram and passing through the passage of slaughtered animals the Patriarch had sacrificed.
When Moses pleaded, "Let me see your glory" The LORD answered: I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim my name, “LORD,” before you; I who show favor to whom I will, I who grant mercy to whom I will."
The LORD came down in a cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed the name, “LORD.” So the LORD passed before him and proclaimed: The LORD, the LORD, a God gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love and fidelity,....
Ezekiel also saw an amazing "parade" as the Lord in a chariot passed in the sky above his head.
Saint Matthew alludes to these parades when he tells us, "Moving on from there Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, went up on the mountain, and sat down there. Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. They placed them at his feet, and he cured them. Perhaps the stream of wretched humanity which followed him is the train of his glory.  
With all these parades in mind, we can understand Peter's amazement as he saw the Lord passing by on the water, and his eager desire to go with him. He would be like a little kid chasing behind the marching army!
However, as the story unfolds we realize that, to follow Jesus, we have to walk on water!
It's not so difficult when we keep our eyes on him. Our daily prayer, our regular attendance at Church, our contemplative studies, and our practice of habitual sacrifice dispose us to the Spirit who guides us.
Watching Peter walk on water we are reminded that, "With faith the impossible is easy; without faith even the easy becomes impossible."
Or, as Saint Paul says, "I can do all things in Christ."

1 comment:

  1. I find it quite easy to side with St. Peter, the impetuous. Eagerly jump out of the boat and start walking on the water. But then to look around and see what's actually happening then become afraid and cry out to the Lord. I find comfort that Jesus does stretch out his hand and catches hold me. I only hope I remember to give Him the homage and say,"Truly, you are the Son of God!"


I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

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