OT XIX [A] (Aug 13) Sunday Homily (8-minute homily in one page)
OT XIX [A] (Aug 13) Sunday Homily (8-minute homily in one page)
Introduction: The readings for this week speak of God's saving presence among His people, our need for trusting Faith in our loving and providing God Who always keeps us company, and our need for prayer in storms of life. (You may add an Anecdote).
Scripture lessons: The first reading tells us of how Elijah the prophet who had defeated the 450 false priests of Baal with the help of just such a trusting Faith in the power of Yahweh, fled to the Lord God for help and strength on Mt Horeb, and encountered Him there in His mercy. In the second reading, Paul laments and mourns over the Jews who, having lost their Faith in Yahweh and His prophets, had rejected their promised Messiah, Jesus. Paul tells us later (11:7-24), that God's plan allowed the Jews to reject Jesus so that a few believers, like Paul, would be free to carry the Good News outside Judaism, evangelizing the Gentiles. The Gospel episode occurred during an unexpected storm on the Sea of Galilee in the early morning hours. As Jesus approached the apostles, miraculously walking on water, he allayed their fears by telling them, “It is I.” The Gospel episode also explains how Peter lost his trusting Faith in Jesus for a few seconds, failed his attempt to walk on water, but was rescued when he called on Jesus for help.
Life messages: 1) We all need to call Jesus in the storms facing us in the Church and in our lives. Let us approach Jesus with strong Faith in his ability and willing availability to calm the storms in the life of the Church and in our own lives. Church history shows us how Jesus saved his Church from the storms of persecution in the first three centuries, from the storms of heresies in the 5th and 6th centuries, from the storms of moral degradation and the Protestant reformation movement (later resulting in hundreds of denominations), in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the storms of sex abuse scandals of the clergy in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We need to realize that it is the presence of Jesus which gives us peace even in the wildest storms of life: the storms of anxiety and worries about the future we are suffering now in the ongoing Corona Virus Pandemic (Corvid-19), storms of sorrow, storms of doubt, tension and uncertainty, storms of anger and despair, storms of temptations, and storms in family relationships. But this peace flows only from a personal relationship with God, with Jesus, enhanced through prayer, meditative reading of Scripture and active participation in the Holy Mass and reception of the Sacraments when these are available to us.
2) We need to imitate the short prayer of sinking Peter: We are expected to pray to God every day with trusting Faith for strengthening our personal relationship with Him and for acknowledging our dependence on Him. But when we have no time or mental energy for formal prayers, let us use the short prayers in the Gospels like Peter’s prayer: “Lord, save me!” or the prayer of the mother of the possessed girl: “Lord, help me!” or the blind man’s prayer: “Son of David, have mercy on me!” or the repentant sinner’s prayer: “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner!” We get plenty of time during our travels to say the short prayers like the “Our Father”, “Hail Mary” and “Glory be….” We may begin every day offering all our day’s activities to God and asking for His grace to do His will; then we may conclude every day before we go to sleep, by asking God’s pardon and forgiveness for our sins. Keeping a Bible on our table will encourage us to read at least a few words of the Bible and thus listen to what God is telling us to do.
OT XIX [A] (Aug 13) 1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-13a; Rom 9:1-5; Mt 14:22-33
Homily starter anecdotes 1): An old story about trustful Faith: In the middle of a dark winter’s night in a small Midwest farming community, the two-story home of a young family caught fire. Quickly, parents and children followed their well-practiced emergency plan and made their way through the smoke-filled home out into the front yard. There the father quickly counted heads and realized that their 5-year-old son was not among them. Suddenly he heard a wail and looked up to see the boy at his bedroom window, crying and rubbing his eyes. Knowing the danger of reentering the house to rescue his son, the father called, “Jump, Son! I’ll catch you!” Between sobs, the boy responded to the voice he knew so well. “But I can’t see you, Daddy!” The father answered with great assurance. “No, Son, you can’t see me, but I can see you! Jump!” At that, the boy jumped into the smoky darkness and found himself safely cradled in his father’s arms. Our Scripture readings for today are about trusting – about having Faith – about being able to discern the fact that our God is always with us, even in storms of life. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
2): Elizabeth Blackwell walked on water: (https://youtu.be/dLKDMe52O3c) For Elizabeth Blackwell “walking on water” meant something entirely different. Elizabeth Blackwell was born on February 3, 1821, in Bristol, England. As a girl, she moved with her family to the United States, where she first worked as a teacher. Elizabeth wanted to become a doctor in the 1840s. At the time, medical schools were only for men. Elizabeth Blackwell had to fight just to get in. Finally, at one school, Geneva College of Medicine in New York, the students voted to let her in as a joke. But the head of the school didn't know it was supposed to be a joke, and he let her in. When she got there, the students made fun of her. They refused to share their notes with her. Some professors tried to keep her out of their classes. She refused to give up. In 1849, she graduated at the head of her class. When no hospital would allow her to practice, she opened her own hospital. Then she opened a medical school to train women. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Blackwell) Elizabeth Blackwell courageously got out of the boat and walked on the roaring waters of opposition and gender discrimination in the medical profession. Today’s Gospel tells us how Peter the apostle tried to walk on water and failed because of his weak Faith in Jesus. (https://youtu.be/j-Vpxb6A6XI). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony(http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
4) Joni survived the storm in her life: (https://youtu.be/4fzY0uj9q6k) Mark Link tells the inspiring story of a 17-year-old girl named Joni Eareckson, who like all teenagers her age was full of vitality, vigor and promise. Her favorite sport was horse-back riding, and in every completion her performance was so very impressive that her prospects for the future kept rising both noticeably and dramatically. One hot afternoon in July, Joni went for a swim in Chesapeake Bay and there tragedy struck. On one particular dive, she sustained such a severe injury to her head that she was instantly knocked unconscious and rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment. And there the worst fears of her loved ones were confirmed. Joni would be a quadriplegic for the rest of her life. The months ahead were an absolute nightmare, with just no light at the end of the tunnel. The once graceful rider, who delighted crowds with her performances, would lie strapped to a Stryker frame. And for much of her time she would lie with her face down, looking at nothing but the floor. That is when she had a spiritual experience. As Joni lay strapped in her Stryker frame, she thought of Jesus nailed to the cross. He was God yet He was totally powerless and helpless. And she adds, “I pictured Jesus standing by my Stryker frame and saying to me, “Don’t lose heart, Joni, for I am with you and will help you to achieve the impossible.” Even as she lay there a curious thought crossed Joni’s mind. She could attempt painting if she could hold a painting brush between her teeth. And that is precisely what she did- so successfully and admirably that she is author of two best-sellers –one being autobiographical and entitled Joni –and has played the lead role in a movie of her own life. This inspiring story aptly demonstrates what Jesus can do in the life of any and every individual, if we let him. This precisely is what Joni did in her absolute helplessness. But with Faith in the Almighty Power and the never-failing help of the Lord Jesus, she was able to achieve the impossible. [J. Valladares in Your Words O Lord, are Spirit, and They Are Life (https://youtu.be/WiygoMpCNms)] (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
Introduction: The readings for this week speak of God's saving presence for His people and the need for trusting faith in a loving and providing God Who always keeps us company. The first reading tells us of how Elijah the prophet who had defeated the 450 false priests of Baal with the help of just such a trusting Faith in the power of Yahweh (then had to flee for his life), encountered the Lord God on Horeb. In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 85), the Psalmist assures us, “Near indeed is His Salvation to those who fear Him, glory dwelling in our land.” In the second reading, Paul laments and mourns over the Jews who, having lost their Faith in Yahweh and His prophets, had rejected their promised Messiah, Jesus. The Gospel episode explains how Peter lost his trusting Faith in Jesus for a few seconds, failed his attempt to walk on water, but was rescued when he called on Jesus for help.
The first reading (1 Kg 19:9, 11-13) explained: After Solomon’s death (922 BC), the northern tribes broke away from Judah, from its priests and from the Temple in Jerusalem. They formed an independent country they called Israel, centered in the city of Samaria. As years rolled by, many of these Jews lost their Faith in Yahweh. Their seventh king Ahab (869-850 BC) married Jezebel, the daughter of the pagan king of Tyre. He allowed her to build a temple for her god Baal, then encouraged, and himself took part in, idol-worship and immorality. The prophet Elijah was sent by Yahweh to Israel to bring His people back to true worship. Elijah’s trusting Faith in the power and presence of Yahweh enabled him to defeat and execute the 450 pagan priests of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kgs. 18:16-40). Consequently, Queen Jezebel sent murderous henchmen after the prophet. Elijah, sustained by food provided by God through an angel, fled for forty days and nights. He finally reached Horeb, the mountain where God had earlier established His covenant with Israel under Moses. Elijah might have expected a spectacular miracle from God to protect and vindicate him, or an appearance of God with great power in thunder and lightning to bolster his Faith, like the one Moses had been granted on that very spot (Exodus 19:16-19). However, the presence of God was not in the spectacles of thunder, earthquake or fire but in “a tiny whispering sound.” Elijah acknowledged God’s presence by covering his face and coming out of the cave where he had taken shelter. He was content with God’s quiet sign of His presence, and was consoled, trusting that his God was helping and protecting him. Like Elijah, we can miss God’s presence by limiting our experience of Him to certain places and persons and forgetting that He is everywhere. The first reading reminds us that we have to experience God’s presence in our lives and listen carefully to everything going on around us, because we encounter God in insignificant as well as spectacular events. Failure, as well as success, offers us the opportunity for growth in trusting Faith in a loving and providing God.
The second reading (Rom 9:1-5) explained: In the first eight chapters of his letter to the Romans, Paul describes the blessings which Christ the Messiah, as the fulfillment of "the Law and the prophets," brought to mankind. Deeply moved, Paul (in today’s second reading), cries out in passionate grief for his countrymen, the Jews, because as a nation they have refused to see Christ as the Messiah promised to them by God through their patriarchs and prophets and thus though still His Chosen People, have not been the ones to bring the Messiah to the world and the world to the Messiah in the present form of the Kingdom of God on Earth. Paul tells us later (11: 7-24), that God's plan allowed for the Jews’ rejection of Jesus; He supplied a few of the Chosen People who became believers in Jesus Christ, the Messiah (like Saul of Tarsus, Pharisee who became Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles), to carry the Good News outside Judaism and to evangelize the Gentiles. The result would be the salvation of the whole world and the reconciliation of the Jews and the Gentiles - blessings even greater than the election of Israel still in suspension. Thus, the ancient promise of God to Abraham would not go unfulfilled. Our first reaction should be a fervent "Thank You, God!” for the true Faith we have received and embraced. Our second thought should be to ask the good God, with trusting Faith, to send the light of Faith to the descendants of Abraham, and to re-light it among those Gentiles who have extinguished it. It is not enough for a true Christian that he should live his own life according to the laws of Christ. True charity demands that he be seriously interested in the spiritual welfare of his neighbors. Paul knew that Jesus suffered and died for all humanity – past, present and future. Christ’s redemptive, thus, was redemptive suffering. So, when we offer our own sufferings to Christ then they, too, somehow become redemptive for others. Herein lies the power of all our intercessory prayer. Through the Church (the Body of Christ), all who suffer – whether Christian or not – are embraced by Christ who makes their suffering his own. As Pope John Paul II taught, in that unity of suffering with Christ, even the suffering of non-Christians is somehow contributing to the world’s redemption (Salvifici Doloris, 24).
Gospel exegesis: The context: Today’s lesson, the account of Jesus’ walking on the Sea of Galilee, is one of the best-known passages in the New Testament. It forms a narrative bridge between the Jewish and Gentile portions of Jesus’ ministry, as well as giving us a theologically rich story about Jesus in its own right. In Matthew’s Gospel, the story follows the rejection of Jesus in his hometown of Nazareth (13:54-58), the death of John the Baptist (14:1-12), and the feeding of the five thousand (14:13-21). It precedes the account of his healing of the sick at Gennesaret (14:34-36) and his confrontation with the Jewish authorities over the nature of tradition (15:1-9). In addition to being a collection of miracle stories (feeding, walking, healing), the stories also form a complex of narratives which, when taken together, speak about both those who recognized in Jesus the One promised by Israel’s religious tradition and those whose doubts or vested interests had blinded them to the miraculous power in their midst. “In Matthew's inspired theology, the Divine Presence in human history unfolds in three stages: (1) God forms the people of Israel and remains with them in good times and bad; (2) in fulfillment of the Divine promise transmitted by the prophets, Jesus, the Messiah and Iincarnate Son of God, is present among his people as their savior; (3) in these last days, the Risen Lord, through his disciples, is present to extend his saving mission beyond his particular historical time and land to all nations.” The one constant in the drama of the Divine Presence in history is the necessity of human response to the saving presence with total trust. (Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B.)
The challenge of trusting Faith: Jesus’ walking on the water follows the miraculous feeding in Matthew, Mark, and John. However, the account of Peter's walking on the water is found only in Matthew. Thus, Matthew's retelling of this event also says something about Peter and his Faith. While we might emphasize Peter’s fear, his sinking and his “little” Faith, we need to look also at his leap of Faith. Peter represents all who dare to believe that Jesus is Savior, take their first steps in confidence that Jesus is able to sustain them, and then forget to keep their gaze fixed on him when they face storms of temptations. From the depth of crisis, however, they remember to call on the Savior, and they experience the total sufficiency of his grace to meet their needs. It is this type of “little Faith” of Peter which Jesus later identifies as the rock on which he will build his Church. The only Faith Jesus expects of his followers is a Faith which concentrates solely on Him. In other words, when we simply heed Our Lord, we can do great things. So, with His grace, we have to raise our awareness of God’s presence in our lives. As we become more aware, we will step out and proclaim that presence, even in surprising places.
Assertion of Christ’s Divinity: Since there are number of passages in the Hebrew Scriptures that speak of God walking on the sea (e.g., Job 9:8; Hb 3:15; Ps 77:19), it has been argued that this is a theophany: Jesus revealing Himself to his disciples as God by proving his mastery over the sea, considered by the ancients to be an unruly chaos inhabited by evil spirits. In Jewish folklore, only God could walk on the water, but human beings cannot see God and live. Therefore, if a person thinks he sees someone walking on the water, it must be a ghost! Besides, there was also a superstition that there were monsters at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee and likely that played into their alarm as well. And the way to get rid of ghosts is to shout and scream. This is exactly what the disciples did until Jesus told them, “Take courage; it is I.” Then those in the boat worshipped Jesus and proclaimed him to be truly the Son of God. There are aspects of this story that suggest a post-Easter event described in John 21:1-14, where the risen Jesus is at first unrecognized. Then, when the disciples know who he is, Peter jumps out of the boat and swims to Jesus. When the disciples get to shore, Jesus takes bread and fish – the same elements that appear in the feeding story before our text (Mt 14:13-21) – and gives them a meal. The only other occurrence of the disciples' worshiping Jesus takes place on the mountain after the resurrection (Mt 28:17).
Assurance of hope in the midst of persecutions: "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid." Matthew recorded his Gospel after Peter was crucified, when the Christians were being persecuted. The two storm stories address issues of danger, fear, and Faith. In both stories, the boat seems to represent the Church, buffeted by temptations, trials and persecutions. In both, Jesus appears as the Church's champion, strong to save those who call on him in Faith. The recounting of this episode probably brought great comfort to the early Christians, especially those of Matthew’s Faith community. For it offered them the assurance that Christ would save them even if they had to die for their Faith in him, and that, even in the midst of persecution, they need not fear because Jesus was present with them. The episode offers the same reassurance to us in times of illness, death, persecution, or other troubles. It teaches us that adversity is not a sign of God's displeasure, nor prosperity a sign of His pleasure, that illness is not a sign of inadequate Faith, nor health a sign of great Faith. Paradoxically, the storms of life can be a means of blessing. When things are going badly, our hearts are more receptive to Jesus. A broken heart is often a door through which Christ can find entry. He still comes to us in the midst of our troubles, saying, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid." If we permit the chaos and evil around us to distract and influence us, then we will sink into the very chaos that we fear! On the other hand, if we keep our focus on the Source of our safety, our salvation, the One to whom we call out to save us, then the winds die down, and we are once again content in the Presence of the Lord. This is the way we increase or sustain our Faith: by never doubting that the Presence of the Lord is with us every single moment of our lives! Our Catechism reminds us that when we cry out “Lord!” we express our recognition of the Divine Mystery of Jesus., and also shows our respect and trust in the One we approach for help and healing (CCC #448).
Life messages: 1) We need to call Jesus in the storms facing the Church and our lives. Let us approach Jesus with strong Faith in his ability and willing availability to calm the storms in the life of the Church and in our lives. Church history shows us how Jesus saved his Church from the storms of persecution in the first three centuries, from the storms of heresies in the 5th and 6th centuries, from the storms of moral degradation and the Protestant reformation movement in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and from the storms of sex abuse scandals of the clergy in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It is the presence of Jesus which gives us peace even in the wildest storms of life: the storms of anxiety and worries about the future we are suffering now in the ongoing Corona Virus Pandemic (Corvid-19), storms of sorrow, storms of doubt, tension and uncertainty, storms of anxiety and worries, storms of anger and despair, storms of temptations. Storms reveal to us our inability to save ourselves and point us to the Infinite ability and eagerness of God to save us. When Jesus shows up in our life’s storms, we find that we gain strength to do the seemingly impossible. For example, when Jesus shows up, he makes marriages out of mistakes, he invigorates, restores, and empowers us to reach the unreachable, to cross the un-crossable. Storms let us know that without him we can do nothing, without him we are doomed to fail. Yet, when Jesus shows up, we gain the strength to join Paul, saying, “In Christ I can do all things.” But this demands a personal relationship with God, with Jesus, enhanced through prayer, meditative study of Scripture and an active Sacramental life. Experiencing Jesus’ presence in our lives, let us confess our Faith in him and call out for his help and protection always.
2) We need to imitate the short prayer of sinking Peter: We are expected to pray to God every day with trusting Faith for the strengthening of our personal relationship with Him and for the courage and humility to acknowledge our complete dependence on Him for everything. But when we have no time or mental energy for formal prayers, let us use the short prayers in the Gospels, like Peter’s prayer: “Lord, save me!” or the prayer of the mother of the possessed girl: “Lord, help me!” or the blind man’s prayer: “Son of David, have mercy on me!” or the sinner’s prayer: “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner!” We get plenty of time during our travels to say the short prayers like the “Our Father”, “Hail Mary” and “Glory be….” We may begin every day offering all our day’s activities to God and asking for His grace to do His will and we may conclude every day before we go to sleep, by asking God’s pardon and forgiveness for our sins. Keeping a Bible on our table will encourage us to read at least a few words of the Bible and thus listen to what God is saying to us.
3) We should not limit God’s saving presence: There are those who would limit God’s presence for their own comfort or security or to keep themselves in power. In years past there were those who would deny God’s presence in slaves. There have been those who would ignore God’s presence in their enemies. There are those who would refuse to believe that God is present in the murderer sitting on death row, in those who are marginalized by our society: the gay person, the addict, the person living with AIDS, the illegal alien, the handicapped. It is in situations like these that we have to get out of the boat, surprise others, and show them the reflection of God in such people. Let us always look for ways to be surprised by our God and opportunities to wake one another up to the beauty, the power and the nearness of our loving, providing and protecting God. Let us also pray for a deepening of God’s gift of Faith within us, that we may be able to recognize Him in the ordinary situations of our lives, and humbly pray to Him saying, “Lord, let us see Your kindness, and grant us Your salvation.”
JOKE OF THE WEEK
# 1: Familiar story. In one of his books, Mark Twain recalls a visit to the Holy Land and a stay in Capernaum. It was a moonlit night, so he decided to take his wife on a romantic boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Twain asked a man in a rowboat how much he would charge to take them out on the water. The man saw Twain's white suit, white shoes and white hat and supposed he was a rich Texan. So, he said the cost would be twenty-five dollars. Twain walked away as he said, "Now I know why Jesus walked on water."
2) Ministers walking on water! There’s an old joke about three pastor friends who are on a beach together. The first, a Catholic priest gets up from his beach towel and walks about a quarter mile out to a raft in the ocean. The second, a Protestant minister, does the same. The third, a rabbi, the newcomer in the group, gets up and walks toward the raft to join his colleagues. Suddenly he finds himself underwater. The priest turns to the minister and says, “Didn’t you tell him where the rocks are?”
3) “Have Faith my child": For the umpteenth time Mrs. Youngston came to her pastor to tell him, "I'm so scared! Joe says he's going to kill me if I continue to come to your Church." "Yes, yes, my child," replied the pastor, more than a little tired of hearing this over and over. "I will continue to pray for you, Mrs. Youngston. Have Faith - the Lord will watch over you." "Oh yes, He has kept me safe thus far, only....." "Only what, my child?" "Well, now Joe says if I keep coming to your church, he's going to kill YOU!" "Well, now," said the pastor, "Perhaps it's time for you to check out that little parish on the other side of town."
4) A priest of little Faith and big ambitions: A Jewish rabbi and his friend a Catholic priest were traveling together in a train and it being a long journey they started to talk.
Rabbi : So what's your next move, padre?
Priest : Well, if I'm lucky I might get a parish of my own
Rabbi : And then?
Priest : Well perhaps I'll be made a Monsignor and maybe even a Bishop!
Rabbi : And after that?
Priest : Well I suppose, it's just possible that I could become a Cardinal
Rabbi : Yes, and what after that?
Priest : Well, it's ridiculous to think about it. But I suppose I could become Pope!
Rabbi : And then?
Priest : Well that's it, Pope! There's only God after that.
Rabbi : Well, you never know. After all one of our Jewish boys from Nazareth, made it! (Source: Jewish Jokes “with no blasphemy intended”)
USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK (For homilies & Bible study groups) (The easiest method to visit these websites is to copy and paste the web address or URL on the Address bar of any Internet website like Google or MSN and press the Enter button of your Keyboard).
1) Fr. Nick’s collection of Sunday homilies from 65 priests & weekday homilies: https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies
2) Fr. Don’ collection of video homilies & blogs: https://sundayprep.org/featured-homilies/ (Copy it on the Address bar and press the Enter button)
3) Fr. Geoffrey Plant’s beautiful & scholarly video classes on Sunday gospel, Bible & RCIA topics: https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant20663)
4) Dr. Brant Pitre’s commentary on Cycle A Sunday Scripture for Bible Class: https://catholicproductions.com/blogs/mass-readings-explained-year-Biblical basis of Catholic doctrines: http://scripturecatholic.com/
5) Agape Catholic Bible Lessons: http://www.agapebiblestudy.com/
Bible base of Catholic teaching: http://www.catholic.com & http://socrates58.blogspot.com/
Where is that in the Bible? http://www.catholicbible101.com/thebible73or66books.htm https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=0Kx-7ijJmJo
Jesus calming the sea: YouTube presentation: click below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=yyzwCpofQSA
Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant: https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066
25 additional anecdotes are sent as attachment
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle A (No. 46) by Fr. Tony: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle C & A homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at email@example.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies of Fr. Nick’s collection of homilies or Resources in the CBCI website: https://www.cbci.in. (Special thanks to Vatican Radio website http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html -which completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020) Fr. Anthony Kadavil, C/o Fr. Jogi M. C. , St. Agatha Church, 1001 Hand Avenue, Bay Minette, Al 36507
Lectio Divina pic