Sunday, August 07, 2011

Sunday word, 07 August 2011

19th Sunday of the Year A

(07Augl2008) 1Kg 19. 9a,11-13a; Ps 85; Rm 9. 1-5; Mt 14. 22-33

Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

More Intimate, More Faithful

In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus used boats for preaching and for transportation. When 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 Even earlier in the gospel, after his Sermon on the Mount, [Jesus] got into a boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. When Jesus calmed the winds and the sea, the disciples marveled, “What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?”2 In the storm their fear spoke differently: They came and woke [Jesus], saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”3

Now we heard Jesus and his disciples were in yet another boat in another storm in which Jesus saved Peter. When the two 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.

“What sort of man is this…?”

“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.

“What sort of man is this…?”

“Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

“Truly, you are the Son of God!”

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

After their minds were again on even keel as their boat, logic or common sense constrained them and had them sputtering with one another:

“What sort of man is this…?”

Their fear instinctively had known better. With no recourse to anything or themselves, they cried to the one who had called them to follow:

“Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

The third time they addressed Jesus with awe in a moment of worship.

“Truly, you are the Son of God!”

Their deepening appreciation for Jesus and for his identity is no quaint historical fact, friends. It is one more witness that Jesus abides with us and commits himself to us 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 tones of voice witness to their deepening inti-macy with Jesus: man; Lord; Son of God. Their intimacy would be tested, as is ours. In stormy, difficult, uncertain and heartbreaking moments intimacy often registers as reliance on one who is committed to us.

After we weather those moments with some-one committed to us, we want to cultivate deeper intimacy and to 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 serving others.

Give Jesus 15 minutes a day this week. Pause and rest yourself in the presence of the Trinity. Ask his disciples to present you to Jesus 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 slowly 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.


  1. Matthew 13. 1-2, which we heard early in July.
  2. Matthew 8.24, 27.
  3. Matthew 8.25.
  4. Matthew 14.33.
Wiki-images of the disciples and Jesus asleep in a boat and of Peter on water with Jesus are in the public domain.

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