Ps 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 6cd-7, 12-13
Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.
18TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Psalter: Week 2 / (White)
St. John Mary Vianney, priest
1st Reading: Num 12:1-13
Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman he had married and they said, “Has Yahweh only spoken through Moses? Has he not also spoken through us?” And Yahweh heard.
Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than any man on the face of the earth. Yet suddenly Yahweh said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, “Come out, all three of you, to the Tent of Meeting.” The three of them came out.
Yahweh came down in the pillar of cloud and, standing at the door of the Tent, called Aaron and Miriam. They both went out and he said, “Listen carefully to what I say,
If there is a prophet among you,
I reveal myself to him in a vision
and I speak to him in a dream.
It is not so for my servant, Moses,
my trusted steward in all my household.
To him I speak face to face,
openly, and not in riddles,
and he sees the presence of Yahweh.
Why then did you not fear to speak against my servant, against Moses?”
Yahweh became angry with them and he departed.
The cloud moved away from above the Tent and Miriam was there white as snow with leprosy. Aaron turned towards Miriam and he saw that she was leprous. And he said to Moses, “My lord, I beg you, do not charge us with this sin that we have foolishly committed. Let her not be like the stillborn whose flesh is half-eaten when it comes from its mother’s womb.”
Then Moses cried to Yahweh, “Heal her, O God, I beg of you.
Gospel: Mt 14:22-36 (or Mt 15:1-2, 10-14)
Immediately Jesus obliged his disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, while he sent the crowd away.
And having sent the people away, he went up the moun¬tain by himself to pray. At nightfall, he was there alone. Meanwhile, the boat was very far from land, dangerously rocked by the waves for the wind was against it.
At daybreak, Jesus came to them walking on the lake. When they saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, thinking that it was a ghost. And they cried out in fear. But at once Jesus said to them, “Courage! Don’t be afraid. It’s me!” Peter answered, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you walking on the water.”
Jesus said to him, “Come.” And Peter got out of the boat, walking on the water to go to Jesus. But, in face of the strong wind, he was afraid and began to sink. So he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately stret¬ched out his hand and took hold of him, saying, “Man of little faith, why did you doubt?”
As they got into the boat, the wind drop¬ped. Then those in the boat bowed down be¬¬fore Jesus saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God!”
They came ashore at Gennesareth. The local people recognized Jesus and spread the news throughout the region. So they brought all the sick to him, begging him to let them touch just the fringe of his cloak. All who touched it became perfectly well.
It would be interesting to survey the dozens of commentaries on today’s gospel episode and to tabulate what percentage of the commentators underscore Peter’s little faith (as noted by Jesus himself) and, on the other hand, the percentage of commentators who give Peter credit for having some faith (again implied by Jesus himself). How easy it is to criticize instead of praising…
Yet, when we think about it, Peter needed a good amount of faith (even if not enough to see him through this crisis) for him to leave the security of his boat (his comfort zone!) and to venture on the raging waters of the lake. As a professional fisherman, he knew perfectly well how the lake’s sudden squalls (produced by the cold winds blowing down from the high Syrian desert) could create mayhem and endanger lives all around. Yet, he did dare to step out of his boat and he did risk to walk on the terrifying waves assailing him. Maybe we should be less hasty in criticizing his subsequent reaction of panic.
At one point or other in our lives, we are all called to leave our security zones and to attempt what seems to be the impossible—to walk on water.
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