19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

First reading: 1 Kgs. 19:9a,11–13a

At the mountain of God, Horeb, Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter. Then the LORD said to him, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire—but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Second reading: Rom. 9:1–5

Brothers and sisters: I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie; my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant 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; 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. Amen.

Gospel: Mt. 14:22–33

After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”

In other words

by Fr. Sisoy Cellan, SVD (Zamboanga Sibugay)

“I don’t know nothing about it” a student once answered in class. The teacher then took the opportunity to explain to the class the use of double negatives. She clarified that “in the English language, a double negative makes the statement positive, so your assertion that you ‘don’t know nothing about it’ is actually an admission that you do know something about it.” “Of course,” she further said, “not all languages operate according to the same grammatical rules, but there is not a single language anywhere in the world in which a double positive makes a negative.” Immediately a voice from the back of the classroom remarked, “Yeah, right!”

Jesus walked on water and then commanded the storm to stop. Yeah, right! First, he walked on water. Awesome! Then, the storm obeyed him to stop. Double awesomeness! However, did it really happen? Was Mother Nature not playing tricks on the disciples? This is one good story too easy to be passed for real, beating the logic of anyone who expects something more down-to-earth. Can something like the one narrated in today’s Gospel really take place?

Without rushing to a convenient retort of “seeing things through the eyes of faith,” we can first try to look at the other side, the so-called double negative experiences of the disciples. They were tossed about by the waves and toyed by strong winds. They were seasoned fishermen, no novices to the rough life on the high seas. Still the storm unnerved them. But what really pushed them to the edge was seeing a “ghost,” or so they thought. It was one heck of a scare after another. If there was “double awesomeness” on the part of the Lord, his disciples had “double fright.”

We are all afraid of something. We all possess a “fear factor” that can put our hearts into our mouths. We all have ghosts and storms in life that are too frightening to face. At times, we turn delusional with fear; at other times, we are reasonable but still fearful. Some fears are deep-seated, as deep as the water the Lord walked on; other fears are merely imagined, the way the disciples mistook Jesus for a ghost. Regardless, when we live in fear, life itself could take a backseat.

There is no telling when we will meet a “ghostly episode” in life that would scare us stiff. There is no knowing when we shall meet a “storm” that will shake the foundation of our faith. Thus, it is important to constantly remind ourselves that there is no equal to the One who walks on water in the midst of a storm and says, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

This should be our prayer to God’s awesomeness: “Lord, save me!” First, we profess our faith by calling him “Lord” then we admit our vulnerability and helplessness by pleading, “Save me.” This consequently doubles our prayer, for genuine prayer recognizes that God is stronger and greater than our fears.

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