Spiritual readings for Sunday 14th August 2017
Week of 7th August (reference: readings of Sunday 13th August)
19th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Reading: Rm 9,1-5; Mt 14,22-33
"Cheer up! It is me. Do not fear!”
The Gospel’s teaching of this week is very emblematic and appears painted in countless works of art throughout history: Jesus walks on the water.
Actually, the reading of this week goes in the same direction as last Sunday: the manifestation of Jesus. In last Sunday's Gospel, Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John, who were filled with fear and did not understand what was happening, until God had to send a voice from heaven saying that Jesus is his beloved Son. Then Jesus tells them no to fear, because it only was the manifestation of his divinity.
This week, Jesus walks on the water. It was dark (it was three in the morning) and the fishermen-disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. It could not be Him, because he was walking on the waves: it only could be a ghost. Jesus told them again no to be afraid, because it was the manifestation of his divinity.
Peter, Peter again, takes the leadership, but a very distrustful leadership, and asks whether, if he were Jesus, he could also walk on the water. Jesus offers him the opportunity to renew his faith and invites him to walk as well, but Peter is still suspicious: he did not see the light; and he begins to sink. Very patiently, Jesus reaches out and saves him, rebuking Peter (perhaps somewhat severely): "Oh, you of little faith, why did you doubt?". And everything becomes calm.
I understand our Vincentian vocation in many of those who take part in this beautiful scene of this week’s Gospel.
Sometimes we are the disciples and we sit in a boat that is adrift, with a headwind. We forget to call Jesus, who is so close to us. In fact, He is within us. And Jesus, without calling him, comes to us, because he knows our weaknesses, he knows the dangers that we face in our storms.
Sometimes we do not recognize Jesus in our lives. On the contrary, we think that the boat is sinking because Jesus is not with us. We only think of the ghosts of our existence; we don't even consider that it may be Jesus reminding us that He is there, ready to calm the sea or to make us walk on water; it is enough for us to call him.
We are afraid of walking on water, of bettering ourselves, of being greater than ourselves and attempting the impossible, knowing that Jesus is always going to give his hand. Saint Vincent tells us that love (charity) has to be inventive to infinity, i.e. we must risk reaching the maximum of our limits so that we love more. He says that the limit of creativity in order to love is the infinite: the limit is God himself!
Like Peter who wanted to reach the limit of walking on the water, to get close to Jesus, we have to be ourselves, as Vincentians. Our goal is the sanctification, the encounter and contemplation of God, through the service to the Poor. But it cannot be a service done with fear: God enables us to walk on the water or to "innovate to infinity", so that the Poor be sanctified and, thus, we also become sanctified. In reality, it is us who impose our limits.
There is no storm that could destroy our boat, provided that it serves to take our loved ones, our assisted people and ourselves toward God. It is enough for us not to be afraid of our limits.
Spiritual Readings for the previous week :