WE have another fascinating Gospel Reading (Matthew 14:-36) this Sunday. As the disciples were on a boat in the midst of fierce winds and waves, Jesus showed himself to them by walking on the water.
Then the disciples shouted saying, “It is a ghost!” Jesus responded, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
The story continues with the classic scene of Peter asking Jesus, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” To which Jesus responded, “Come!” So Peter began walking toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and waves he was frightened and shouted, “Lord, save!” Jesus immediately stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Many times we find ourselves in the shoes of Peter. Certainly, we trust the Lord. In fact, we always say that the Lord provides and he takes care of us. But when we start to feel the waves of problems, responsibilities, and insecurities in our lives, we begin to sink in the ocean of life like Peter. We start to drown in our fears and anxieties. It’s then that God reminds us to have faith in him and not be afraid.
Many factors contribute to our fears and anxieties. We’re afraid of not meeting people’s expectations, of failures and the uncertainties of tomorrow. We’re scared of getting sick, getting old, and yes, dying. We’re also afraid of the horrific news we hear on the television and the social media, like the threat of nuclear war and the continuous terrorism in the world.
Of course, we’re human, and it’s natural for us to be fearful. Who’s not scared of a strike of a nuclear bomb? But that’s when we turn to Jesus and ask him to save us from all these fears, threats, and evil things. That’s when we entrust to him all our concerns and ask him to interfere in the world affairs, to fight evil in the hearts of men and women, to bring the nations of the world in common cause for peace and justice.
Yes, that’s when we should trust the power of God!
Today’s Gospel according to Matthew emphasizes divine power. “It is I; do not be afraid,” the Lord says. As biblical exegetes say, the heart of this Gospel story is the manifestation of God who does what he does, “walking on the sea and rescuing those in danger of drowning.”
He’s the God who reveals himself to us, not in winds, earthquake or fire as the First Reading in this Sunday’s Mass tells us (1 Kings 11-13), but in a tiny whispering sound that assures us of his presence and his power to save us.
In the whispering sound, God tells us to increase our faith and to remain firm.
We’ll need to remember the many ways that God has interfered in our personal histories and the history of the world. It’s is what St. Paul tells us in the Second Reading when he refers to God’s involvement in the lives of the Israelites. Paul said, “theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; theirs the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever. (Romans 9:5)
Covenants, promises, and the reign of Jesus Christ—these are God’s manifestations throughout the history of the world and the history of our lives.
May we never fail to recall them so that our hearts will remain courageous to face all uncertainties and fears! n
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From a Filipino immigrant family, Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas was ordained to the priesthood from St. John’s Seminary in 1991. He served as Associate Pastor at St. Augustine, Culver City (1991-1993); St. Martha, Valinda (1993-1999); and St. Joseph the Worker, Canoga Park (1991-2001). In 2001, he served as Administrator Pro Tem of St. John Neumann in Santa Maria, CA, until his appointment as pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Los Angeles, in 2002, which lasted 12 years. His term as Associate Director of Pastoral Field Education at St. John’s Seminary began in July 2014.