Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sunday word, 10 Aug 2008

19th Sunday of the Year A (10Aug2008) 1Kg 19. 9a,11-13a; Ps 85; Rm 9. 1-5; Mt 14. 22-33
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Tones of Voice

In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus used boats for preaching and for transportation. Earlier in the gospel as Jesus began speaking in parables to crowds gathered with him on the shore, Jesus got into a boat on the sea and sat down. And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land./1/ When he finished, his disciples took [Jesus] with them in the boat just as he was. ...A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was...asleep. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”/2/ Notice their tone of voice.

Later, leaving another lakeside town in a boat, another violent storm befell them so that the boat was being swamped by waves...again Jesus was asleep. The disciples...woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”/3/ Notice their tone of voice.

Now we heard Jesus and his disciples were in yet another boat in another storm in which Jesus saved Peter. When the two of them returned to the boat, the disciples did Jesus homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God!”/4/

The three responses of the disciples are not identical, which makes them worth our attention.
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” “Truly, you are the Son of God!”

It isn’t merely their difference as it is to what their difference points, namely the disciples’ increasing appreciation of Jesus and his identity.

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
“Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
“Truly, you are the Son of God!”

Each response followed a crisis in their lives and having been with Jesus a bit longer. A development in their understanding deepened their recognition of Jesus and appreciation of him. The move was from Teacher to Lord to God’s son. Their tone of speaking is more revealing and instructive for us.

They reproached Jesus harshly the first time:
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

The second time they acknowledged Jesus as more than a teacher and implored his help:
“Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

The third time was a moment of worship.
“Truly, you are the Son of God!”

The deepening appreciation of the disciples for Jesus and for his identity is not a quaint historical fact, my friends. It is one more witness that Jesus is with us, too, and commits himself to us in the present at each moment: in the stormy times of our lives as well as times when all seems to go smoothly for us.

The disciples’ ways of addressing Jesus and their tone of voice witness to their deepening intimacy with Jesus: Teacher; Lord; Son of God. In stormy, difficult, uncertain and heart-breaking moments intimacy often registers as reliance on one who is committed to us. After we weather those moments with a person committed to us, we want to cultivate deeper intimacy and renew our commitment. Our life of faith involves cultivating our intimacy with Jesus and renewing our commitment to him through personal prayer, public worship and service.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, pause and rest yourself in the presence of the Trinity. Ask his disciples to present you to Jesus in order to gain a deeper felt knowledge of Jesus and his commitment to you. Consider who Jesus is for you. A way to begin is to notice how you address Jesus: is Jesus your savior; your redeemer; your creator; your companion; your Lord; your Teacher; your friend; or, do you call on God instead of Jesus? Praise Jesus and desire to know him better. Close your time by saying slowing the Lord’s Prayer. Praying Jesus’ words with awareness gives us his attitude, and the more attentive we are to the attitude of Jesus, the more we rely on Jesus and the more we live as his disciples, growing more intimate and faithful in each present moment.

Matthew 4.1.
Matthew 4.36-38.
Matthew 8. 24-25.
Matthew 14.33.
Wiki-images of Jesus walking on water and of a cloud over water are in the public domain.

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