07Aug 7 Aug, Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Theme

We could try to have a deep and trusting faith in divine providence, like Elijah and Peter, in today’s Scripture. Neither of those two saints found it always easy to believe that God would take care of them. And the great apostle Paul, too, had his problems in holding to his faith in God’s guiding hand in human history, for he was in anguish about the spiritual destiny of the many Jews who rejected Jesus Christ. But God works in mysterious ways, and helps us to eventually come back to trusting in his all-merciful providence.

Readings

1 Kgs 19:9,11-13. To Elijah on Mount Sinai, God’s voice was like the gentle whisper of a breeze. The Lord works quietly in history and in individual lives.

Rom 9:1-5. Paul grieved to see his fellow-Jews refuse to accept Jesus as the Messiah. The apostle loves his countrymen and would do anything to win them for Christ.

Mt 14:22-33. When Peter begins to sink Jesus chides him for his lack of faith. The storm subsides and the disciples proclaim Jesus as the Son of God.

Bidding Prayers

– for the courage to make progress in our faith, to examine and ponder God’s place in our lives.

– for a deep and trusting faith, like that of Elijah and Saint Peter.

-that our lives will be inspired by the ideals of the gospel and the example of Jesus.

– for the grace to start again, spiritually, after every fall and every storm.

Homilies

The Lure of Mystery (John Walsh)

Shortly after the ancient Roman Republic had become an empire, with supreme power vested in the person of the emperor, the pagan religion began to lose its attraction for people, especially when they were forced to worship the reigning emperor as a god, and more and more Romans were attracted to what were called “mystery religions.” These mystery cults, introduced mainly from the east, with their special initiation rites shrouded in secrecy, became popular. The charge has been levelled against the Catholic Church, in modern times, that a lot of the mystery which originally was part of the liturgy – even the mystery surrounding the person of Christ – has been pushed into the background; and as a result that the Church itself has lost some of the fascination and the attraction it formerly had. But the first reading today, about the pilgrimage of the prophet Elijah to the holy mountain of Sinai, or Horeb, never fails to fascinate the thoughtful reader.

The great prophet, who had been so fearless in confronting and defeating, on Mount Carmel, the army of false prophets who were followers of King Ahab, and even more so of his queen, Jezebel, suddenly lost heart in the face of continuing opposition from the queen, to such an extent that he wished he was dead. For him it was a real crisis of faith. How could God really be Lord when Jezebel’s power continued undiminished, and she still posed a threat to his life? God, however, was to restore his faith by means of that strange pilgrimage to the holy mountain, Horeb or Sinai, where he was to encounter the divine presence in a special way, a way that shows clearly the development in the Old Testament understanding of God. When he gave the commandments to Moses on this mountain, God’s presence was made manifest in a storm, earthquake and lightning. But for Elijah these were only the heralds of the Lord’s coming. For he was not in the wind, or the earthquake, or the lightning, but rather in “a voice of a gentle stillss,” an awesome vocal silence.

The whole revelation was a lesson to the fiery prophet, who had overturned pagan altars and slaughtered 450 false prophets, that the days of violence were past, and that God in his own hidden way would bring about the welfare of Israel. It was not the fearful and tremendous forces of nature, but rather this whisper of a gentle breeze that denoted the presence of God, and made Elijah cover his face with his cloak, for, as the Jews believed, no human being could look on the divine countenance and live. From now on the power of God is not to be seen in natural phenomena, for God is superior to all such. In fact he controls them; he uses them for his own purposes, for God is in no way material; he is pure Spirit.

We see this further exemplified in today’s gospel, in the person of Jesus, who shows himself the complete master over the elements which whipped up the lake into such mountainous waves, that the disciples despaired of ever reaching the land. Wherever, then, there is storm and unrest, God brings calm, where there is inner turmoil and depression, God generates peace and spiritual renewal. Leading up to the first reading, Elijah’s prayer was, “Lord, I have had enough. Take away my life.” But after his encounter on Horeb, all this was changed. “I am filled with jealous zeal for the Lord of hosts,” we find him saying.

Likewise, at the outset of the gospel story, the disciples were in desperate straits in their boat, and that at a time, the fourth watch, between three and six in the morning, when human resistance is at a low ebb. We can understand how their first reaction to the appearance of Christ walking on the water was one of terror. But those few words from Christ, “Courage, do not be afraid,” bring about a change so dramatic that Peter ventures to get out of the boat, and walk on that element which up to then had inspired such alarm in them all. In his momentary hesitation Peter is reassured by the sustaining hand of Jesus.

The message for us is quite clear. When fears and problems assail us, when God seems so remote and forgetful of our plight, then we should cry out, “Lord, save us, we perish.” This little prayer should also be an act of faith in God, and conversely, every act of faith is another form of prayer, because in making it our thoughts are turning to God. And God will not only hear our call, he will respond favourably to it, provided we do not waver in our trust in him.

The Wind Died (Patrick Rogers)

1. Voyage: Life can be viewed as journey (Pilgrim’s progress; Exodus; Odyssey), or still better as voyage (because driven by forces more powerful than ourselves, like wind and wave.) We sail upon a rippling surface of events, feeling the joy of movement, being alive and going somewhere. When things go well, we feel the contentment of those experienced sailors, the apostles on their way home across the quiet lake of Galilee.

2. Waves: A gale blew up, changing their mood. Danger and fear of drowning. Our own life-voyage has its share of storms too, anxieties, problems and pressures of various kinds. How often a sudden turn of events can rob us of inner peace. Are we on a charted course, or just drifting along without any determined direction? Many find it hard enough to stay afloat, pressurised by the bewilderingly changing times, ill-at-ease in their relationships with others, discontented and insecure in themselves. That’s exactly what the frightened apostles in the storm mean for us today: we are those sailors, tossing about in the waves.

3. Remedies: Many prescriptions are suggested, to ease the upsets of our voyage. Like different brands of medication for sea-sickness! A long quiet rest, a change of occupation, psychiatric help or counselling, a course of Yoga or Transcendental Meditation, Contemplative or Charismatic Prayer. Doubtless, every remedy has its own advantages, but what better support can be found in times of stress than an understanding friend? Today’s gospel suggests that our first and most constant recourse should be to none other than, Christ himself.

4. Hidden Presence: God is present where we least expect him, although it is a hidden, unseen presence, not always easy to discover. It takes faith nearer than the door.” So the apostles were amazed to see Christ coming to them in the middle of the storm, for (at that stage) they were men of little faith. Elijah, that lonely refugee, faithful to his God despite cruel persecution by Jezebel, discovered the mysterious presence of God in the still, small voice of his own soul. Standing at the mouth of a cave, on the slopes of the holy mountain, he got strength and comfort from the Living God. Where God is, there is peace. But his presence is everywhere, for those who learn to discern it.

A fine expression of this belief in God’s unseen presence is given in Francis Thompson’s poem, The Kingdom of God:

O world invisible, we view thee,
O world intangible, we touch thee,
O world unknowable, we know thee,
Inapprehensible, we clutch thee!

Does the fish soar to find the ocean,
The eagle plunge to find the air –
That we ask of the stars in motion
If they have rumour of thee there?

Not where the wheeling systems darken,
And our benumbed conceiving soars!
The drift of pinions, would we hearken,
Beats at our own clay-shuttered doors.

The angels keep their ancient places;-
Turn but a stone, and start a wing!
‘Tis ye, ’tis your estrangèd faces,
That miss the many-splendoured thing.

But when so sad thou canst not sadder
Cry; – and upon thy so sore loss
Shall shine the traffic of Jacob’s ladder
Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross.

Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter,
Cry, – clinging Heaven by the hems;
And lo, Christ walking on the water
Not of Gennesareth, but Thames!

Whether at the height of the storm, or when its fury has passed, the Lord is there.

5. Safe Harbour: We do not expect to be immune from the hardships and problems faced by all the other voyagers through this life. Indeed, Christ himself shared fully in all of these anxieties, being tested as we are. If the Church be seen as a boat (in which there are no idle passengers, but all are needed to row!), then we have as destination the safe harbour of eternal life. With the compass of faith, and Christ himself as unseen captain of the ship, that harbour will surely be reached. In the meantime, though tossed about by circumstances, he tells us: “Courage! Do not be afraid, men of little faith!’

Work and prayer, hand-in-hand (Jim Mazzone)

If you do not succeed the first time, try, try again. Jesus, who earlier in the day withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself in order to either grieve, pray, or escape the interest that Herod had in Jesus as possibly John the Baptist raised from the dead, now makes deliberate plans to escape both the disciples and the crowds in order to be alone. The only time he has spent alone on this day was in a boat on the Sea of Galilee – on his way to a deserted place. And even then, I wonder how much solitude could be enjoyed on that trip with a visible throng of 20,000-30,000 traveling on foot on the shore in the direction in which Jesus was either sailing or rowing. Furthermore, Jesus has spent the better part of the day curing the sick, and a better part of the evening feeding the hungry.

Homily theme: Under some circumstances, it might be appropriate to put off private, reflective prayer in order to do a work of charity; however, never let work take the place of prayer, let them exist hand-in-hand. Although Jesus is moved to delay prayer earlier in the day, he now unmistakably creates the opportunity for uninterrupted prayer when his works of charity are complete.

I wonder if the boat that Jesus made the disciples depart in was the same boat that he earlier in the day arrived in? Did the disciples arrive on foot with the crowd, or did they show up in an additional boat to the place of the multiplication of loaves and fishes? Does the fact that Jesus walks on the water support the theory that there was no boat available for Jesus? If it is the same boat, is this why Jesus MAKES the disciples get into the boat? Were the disciples leery to part with Jesus? Did they fear that they would be separated from Jesus for a few days too many?

Homily theme: Do we ever think we can be separated from Jesus by the places we go, or to the places we are taken? Do we feel that Jesus abandons us in our time of crisis? Do we ever feel that we have permanently separated ourselves from Jesus by the storms of sin or confusion with which we have surrounded ourselves? During times likes these Jesus walks out to us in our storm, tells us to take courage, and calms the wind. Let our simple response to the saving help of Jesus be that of Peter – Lord, save me!

I wonder if it was difficult to dismiss the crowds? Perhaps the hunger that drove the crowds to seek Jesus earlier in the day has been sated and know they feel free to depart. The sick were cured, the masses were miraculously fed, and the glory of God was made manifest on earth. Not a bad day. Perhaps it was time to get home to the familiar. Perhaps they were excited to recount what they had experienced to those who were not there. In any event, the crowds were dismissed.

After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone.

Interestingly we are told twice in this short phrase that Jesus is, indeed, alone. Perhaps the importance of solitude in prayer is stressed here.

Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. Here is an interesting contrast in scenes. In the last scene Jesus finally finds an opportunity to pray. There is an emphasis on his solitude. Furthermore, he prays on an elevated place – a mountain. A scene is conjured up of Jesus praying in a quiet, placid, elevated place away from, and above distractions. And now we hear of the simultaneous, forceful waves against which the disciples are trying to make some headway. Here is a powerful juxtaposition of serenity – and panic.

By the way, here are some Sea (actually a freshwater lake) of Galilee stats: 13 miles long, 8.5 miles wide, maximum depth 150 feet, surrounded by mountains 1,200-1,500 feet high. In short, one can look across the Sea from any direction. Tradition places the site of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes at Heptapegon, where the early Church of the Loaves and Fishes was built. This is located in the Northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee. Also, it is common for high winds and dangerous storms to suddenly appear out of nowhere. Dangerous sailing conditions are oftentimes unpredictable. If your slant is that Jesus intentionally walked out to the boat to lend assistance, there is certainly a homily here.

Homily theme: Peter is the model of a human journey of faith. He seeks, He steps, he sinks, he is saved, he praises, repeat. One could propose that the faith of Peter returns when he refixes his gaze again on Jesus and says – Lord, save me! – not, Lord, save me IF you can. Peter trusts in the immediate saving help of Jesus. Weakness which leads to the awareness of the saving power of Jesus is always beneficial. Have we moved our gaze from Jesus? Has our gaze moved toward fears or distractions? I think what we should take away from this interaction between Peter and Jesus is the courage Peter displayed in first asking Jesus to command, and second, responding to that command. We should also be mindful of the purest request of help from Peter (Lord, save me!), and the immediate response from Jesus.

Always with us (Patrick Brophy)

Matthew follows his liturgical “instructive” account of the feeding of 5,000 people with a no less didactic account of Jesus’s walking on the waters. From a narrative of richly allusive eucharistic symbolism we go on to another incident of. deep ecclesial significance.

It is clear that Matthew is thinking of the Church as a boat, navies, tossed on the ocean wave. He wants us to know that Christ is never absent from his Church no matter how much in danger the baroque may appear to be. In the midst of the storm Jesus comes walking on the waters to relieve anxiety and distress. Peter’s faith is not equal to the strain. But when Jesus takes his hand his faith is strengthened and he expresses his growing conviction that Jesus is the Messiah. The disciples are coming on!

This incident may be part of the post-resurrection tradition of the Church. It reminds us that Jesus, who is ever living to make intercession for us, is never far away from his Church provided that the faith of the Church members grows. Peter is a weak, impetuous man who will always need Christ’s help. But that help is always forthcoming because Christ is with his Church all days until the end time. The prayer of Jesus never ceases.

This is Matthew’s first account of Peter in a position of prominence. It will be followed by the incidents at Caesarea Philippi (sixteen) and the payment of the temple tax (seventeen.) The instruction of the disciples proceeds apace. They are gaining insights into the nature of the messianic community in which faith has to keep on growing and men have to keep on accepting the hand of Christ held out to them.

We can all recognize ourselves in the doubts of Peter when once lie had taken the plunge and sets out to walk towards the Lord on the waters. To each one of us is spoken the rebuke “Man of little faith.” Why do we doubt? Is it not because we, like the disciples, have a lot to learn about Jesus and his Church?

Jesus today is still the question-raiser. “What sort of man is this?” (8: 27), “Can this be the son of David?” (12: 23). The impact of meeting Jesus when once he had joined them in the boat stimulated the disciples to make a full confession of Christian faith “Truly you are the Son of God.”

The first reading reminds us that God comes in the little things, in the quiet ways of Church life. The second reading shows us that we today have the fullness of God’s revelation. We envy nobody. We are invited today to grow in our understanding of the presence of Christ in his Church. It is not the ghost of Jesus but the living Lord of the Church whom we salute here today.

A ghost terrifies the disciples. The real Christ, when once they recognize him, reassures them. So with us, too. It is our faith that has to grow, that has to be stretched.

We believe that Jesus is with us in this church as we pray together. His promise stands firm. We believe that Jesus is speaking to us in his word in the scriptures. (We ask his Spirit to help us to apply today’s readings to our lives, inspiring us to make our hearing fruitful.) We believe that Jesus comes sacramentally in the Eucharist, inviting us to become one with him in communion. Like the apostles in the boat, we in the nave of this church acknowledge Jesus as our Lord, we bow down before him and adore him. We profess “Truly you are the Son of God.” Our faith has to be submitted to the proving ground of daily living. What is the point of a faith that is not exercised?

Prejudice and discrimination

What do I wish to achieve today? As a homilist it is my task, under God, to translate the message of God in scripture into today’s language and conditions. For the readings we listen to were originally addressed to different people at a different time and in different circumstances. Today I must re-address that message for a particular congregation. Certainly I will be conscious of the presence of Jesus in so many different ways, e.g. as outlined in the Constitution on the Liturgy, 7. I will be conscious of the calmness that the presence of Christ brings and of the need to bring about a calmness, “a gentle breeze,” in which he may speak to me.

Some will have been struck by Paul’s great love of the Jewish people. History has plenty of examples of anti-Semitism. It has many more examples of discrimination on the grounds of colour and religion. To these can be added the various forms of prejudice which are based on property, status and way of life. Today I must identify these in my community – without being insensitive, without landing in stormy waters. It is up to me to increase the awareness of prejudice and discrimination in society. The Christian message is of equality under God. The Christian celebration is of fellowship with God and with one another as sisters and brothers.

Many may feel a hopelessness and a helplessness in combating prejudice. It is not my task to increase this but, like Christ, to say “Courage.” But I must point out that the remedy must begin with each individual person. I must point out that each individual person exercises influence, be it great or small, on every single other person that he or she meets (or avoids.)

Walking On Water (Liam Swords)

None of us remember now what must have been one of the greatest achievements of our lives. Our first steps. Since then we have relived the same experience with our own children.

A mother’s eyes keep aloft her child attempting these first tottering steps. Her outstretched arms encourage, ready to catch her baby when it falls. As fail it does. But that baby’s world will never be the same again. Its first ideal has been born. Never again will it be content to grope about on all fours in that safe myopic world of pots and pans and table-legs. It has climbed the mountain and seen the promised land. A vertical world of unlimited horizons. We may not have performed again on cue when mother summoned in the neighbours to witness this historic moment. But the goal was now in sight.

A similar but less momentous occasion I do remember, is the day I learned to swim. It was the “dead man’s float.” Holding my body stiff with outstretched arms and taking a deep breath, I lay back on the water. Father held me with his strong hand beneath my back. Slowly he withdrew it. I sank momentarily beneath the water and then resurfaced and remained afloat. I had mastered my fear. It was an unforgettable moment. Ever since, I always prefer swimming on my back. I may not always know for sure where I’m going but my gaze is firmly fixed upon the skies.

Those faltering steps of Peter on the water mimic so closely a baby’s first attempt to walk upright. Of all the apostles; Peter’s impulsiveness is infant-like, if not occasionally infantile. Seeing Jesus walks upon the water, he cries out, like children do: “Let me try too.” “Come,” Jesus said, as most indulgent parents would. One foot out, he tests the water, solid as the ground. Eyes fixed on Jesus, he begins his weightless walk. Until he realises the enormity of his feat. Then looking down, he sees the windswept waters swirling round his feet and he begins to sink. Jesus put out his hand at once and held him. “Man of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?’

His first steps, his first fall. But there would be no going back now. He had taken his first few steps into the world of faith where all was possible.

We too are called to this world of faith, the world of the spirit. “Be ye perfect,” the gospel tells us, “as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The demands it makes seem impossible, its ideals unattainable. Mired as we are in the mud of daily living, we are asked to raise our eyes to higher things. The happiness we are promised will make us walk on air, if not on water. Like the child on all fours on the kitchen floor we are encouraged to stand up and attempt to walk. “Come,” Jesus calls us like Peter in the boat. And when we start to sink, he reaches out his hand and holds us, clucking like a mother to her child. “Men of little faith, why do you doubt?’

Calmer of Storms (Jack McArdle)

Today’s gospel is one of several incidents when Jesus calmed a storm on the Sea of Galilee. It has several extra nuances, because it tells us about Jesus going aside to pray, how he walked on the water, and how poor Peter fared when he attempted to do the same. It is a gospel that has much to teach us.

I’m sure we all have seen a sheet of paper on the wall near a phone, with emergency numbers on it. There’s the fire brigade, the ambulance, the doctor, etc. It is useful, and advisable to have these at hand. I have never seen God’s name on this list! And yet, he is often called on in emergencies only. The apostles were lucky that he arrived on time.

The opening of the gospel is quite touching. It speaks about Jesus sending his apostles away, where they could have a rest, while he would stay back and deal with the crowds. He then went off to be alone, to spend some time with the Father. He showed wonderful concern and sensitivity for others, but he also had to have time for himself. Many good people fail in this second part. I can become so busy with the work of the Lord, that I haven’t time for the Lord of the work. There is something gentle and impressive about these opening comments. It gives us a glimpse of just how beautiful a person he must have been for those who walked with him in life. That is the same for us today.

To the Hebrews, water was a symbol of death, as well as life. They had to pass through the waters of the Red Sea to enter the Promised Land, just as we have to pass through death to enter eternal life. Jesus came to remove the weeds of sin, sickness, and death. By walking on water, he showed that he had authority over death. Later on, after his resurrection, he would keep appearing among his apostles to convince them, beyond doubt, that he was alive. He told them on several occasions that he would rise from the dead. Death was “the final enemy,” and it was essential that they be convinced that death had been conquered. Their mission was to be witnesses to his resurrection. “Dying, you destroyed our death Peter was always ready for a “dare.” If Jesus could walk on water, then Peter was ready to try that too. It was as if he were saying, “Lord, could I have the freedom over death that you have?” Jesus invited him to come on, and try it. Peter did that, and, when he kept his eyes fixed on Jesus, he succeeded. One he took his eyes off Jesus, however, and became conscious of the wind and the waves, he lost his nerve and began to sink. “Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” Jesus faced Peter with the fact that he hadn’t trusted him, as if Jesus was going to let him drown. How often do we hear those words from Jesus, “Oh, you of little faith; why did you doubt?” It is interesting to see that as soon as Jesus stepped into the boat, the wind stopped. Quite a dramatic lesson!

Response: Most of us have seen films based on the life of Jesus. The persons playing the part of Jesus were almost identical in every case. It would have been fascinating to have met Jesus in the flesh. We must be touched by his gentle thoughtfulness in the first part of today’s gospel. A friend is someone who is willing to walk another mile with us. We are told that “he came to do and to teach.” He did the kind act first, and then he told them to love one another as he loved them. For those who witnessed his actions, this must have seemed an impossibility.

When I reflect that the gospel is now, and I am every person in it, then I must surely experience myself in a storm of one kind or other, and I cannot see how I can remain afloat, or regain a balance in my life. Alcoholics, manic depressives, etc., experience this all the time. It must be really difficult for those who feel alone, either because they do not believe in Jesus, or they choose to ignore him. The sea of life can be intimidating at times, and my boat is small. It is essential that I make room for Jesus in that boat. It is not possible to call out to him, and not be heard.

Peter had a spontaneity that often got him in trouble. He certainly was the only one in that boat who would dare step over the side! Jesus must have smiled at Peter, while being pleased with the trust he had in Jesus. Human as he was, he lost his nerve, and he got quite a fright. However, he knew where to call for help and, once again, he was not disappointed. He still had a lot to learn, but he was willing to have a go, and to learn, even through his mistakes. Experience is a good school, although the fees are often high!

I’m sure we all know people who are just naturally kind, thoughtful, and active in service. I know one lady who, when she visits a house, she is happiest if she can find a tea towel, and help with the wash-up. She just has to be doing something. She seems to be at her best when she gets an opportunity to roll up her sleeves and help in clearing up after a meal or a party. I see that in Jesus at the beginning of today’s gospel. I also admire the balance between taking care of dismissing the crowds, and going off by himself, to be alone. There is a simple lesson there for all of us. It would be a well-worthwhile exercise to take some time out to reflect on what I see in my own life in this area.

Please don’t keep Jesus’ phone number filed under “Emergencies’! Practise involving him in everything you do. “Lord, please walk with me today. May your presence within me touch the hearts of those I meet today, either through the words I say, the prayers I pray, the life I live, or the person that I am.” Learn to walk with the Lord. Imagine him entering every door just ahead of you. Don’t wait for the storm to call for help. I would rather be safely guided by a lighthouse than be saved by a lifeboat.

Give some thought to the words we use in the Mass : “Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free. You are the Saviour of the world. Dying you destroyed our death; rising you restored our life.” Notice these statements are in the past tense. We speak of something that has already happened. Peter did not have the advantage of hindsight that we have. When I think of death, I can reflect on stepping over the side of the boat. The secret is to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, and I won’t be troubled by the wind and the waves. Jesus has made all things Possible for me, and I must be willing to claim my inheritance from the legacy he has left. I have an onus to accept the gift of salvation, and this puts a further onus on me to witness to that truth, and look saved!

There was a disastrous drought in one of the southern states of the US some years ago, and much of the crops were lost. The state was declared a disaster area and, while the government was coming to the help of the farmers, all churches began to pray for the rains to come. One night a mother was putting her little girl to bed. She was saying her night prayers. The mother suggested that she pray for rain, but she refused. This puzzled her mother, so she tried several different ways of broaching the subject, but each attempt was firmly turned down. The mother couldn’t figure out why she was so insistent on refusing to pray for rain, so she came right out and asked her. “Mammy, I have two dolls on a bench in the back-garden, and if you go out and take them in, I’ll pray for rain.”

If she prayed for rain, she expected it to rain! You could imagine Jesus saying “Thank you for your faith, and for not doubting my promises.”

First Reading: 1 Kings 19:9, 11-13 

At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Second Reading: Romans 9:1-5 

I am speaking the truth in Christ-I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit- I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

Gospel: Matthew 14:23-33 

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear.

Immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
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