August 9, 2020 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time Fr Andy Upah

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1

At the mountain of God, Horeb,
Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter. 
Then the LORD said to him,
“Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD;
the LORD will be passing by.” 
A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains
and crushing rocks before the LORD—
but the LORD was not in the wind. 
After the wind there was an earthquake—
but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 
After the earthquake there was fire—
but the LORD was not in the fire. 
After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. 
When he heard this,
Elijah hid his face in his cloak
and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Responsorial Psalm

R. (8) Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
I will hear what God proclaims; the LORD — for he proclaims peace.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him, glory dwelling in our land.
R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
The LORD himself will give his benefits; our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him, and prepare the way of his steps.
R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.

Reading 2

Brothers and sisters:
I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie;
my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness
that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart. 
For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ
for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. 
They are Israelites; theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants,
the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises;
theirs the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, is the Christ,
who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.


R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I wait for the Lord;
my soul waits for his word.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.


After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. 
When it was evening he was there alone. 
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. 
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them walking on the sea. 
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. 
“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. 
At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” 
Peter said to him in reply,
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 
He said, “Come.” 
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. 
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 
After they got into the boat, the wind died down. 
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
“Truly, you are the Son of God.”

Homily for Nativity on Nineteenth Sunday Ordinary Time 8/9/2020

1 KGS 19:9A,11-13A; PS 85:9-14; ROM 9:1-5; MT 14:22-33

When I read this Gospel, I couldn’t help but think about my time in Israel and being on the Sea of Galilee.  Back in 2017, my class of about 50 seminarians went over to Israel for nine weeks and we spent about three weeks near the Sea of Galilee.  

It was absolutely beautiful, it is really no wonder why Jesus spent so much time there.  The lake itself is about 33 miles around, and we spent the majority of our time on the north shore which is where Jesus did the majority of his ministry.  

Capernaum, Tiberias, the Mount of Beatitudes are all right there, all within walking distance. We did take a big boat out onto the lake at one point, we left from the town of Magdala, think of Mary Magdalene - that’s most likely where she was from.

It was cool to be out sailing on the Sea of Galilee, it was a beautiful afternoon, nothing like we hear in the story, which is probably good!

After we got back to Magdala, we toured a little museum which has what is known as “The Jesus Boat.”  Back in 1986, the Sea of Galilee got really low and this boat was exposed in the mud.  They did a lot of quick work and were able to salvage most of it, and it is on display there in Magdala.

Now whether Jesus was actually in this boat is questionable, but they are fairly certain that this was the type of boat that Jesus and the apostles would have used, it is definitely from that time period.  This particular boat was 30 feet long, 7 ½ feet wide, and about 4 feet tall.

So this is the boat that I imagine they were in that night. And I get back from this trip, after walking in the footsteps of Jesus, seeing this amazing boat and all of these amazing things, and you know what the most common thing people asked me was? “Did you feel safe?”  “Did you see any violence?”

That was people’s biggest concern, because all they ever see on TV or on the internet is violence, that’s what they see, so that’s what they think of Israel.

The most violence I saw is this one time Palestinian kids with slingshots were throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers with AK-47s - not exactly a fair fight, but not really something to be all worried about either.

But what everyone sees on the news comes from the Gaza Strip, a little town 50 miles from Jerusalem on the coast that is filled with violence, but we never even got anywhere close to Gaza, yet that is what people think of when they think of the Holy Land.

And I feel like that is the way it is right now in our culture… Everyone is watching the TV and the internet and they are worried about what they are seeing, in places far away, but we are only seeing the worst of what is happening.

We hear today’s Gospel, the disciples were worried about what they saw too.  This is the second story that we have heard about them being on the Sea of Galilee, the first time in chapter 8 Jesus was in the boat, and they were all worried about the storm.  

This time they don’t seem to worry about the storm, but rather they are terrified when they see Jesus walking towards them on the water, so terrified in fact that they “cried out in fear.” 

Jesus immediately calms their fears and says, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” This statement is more of a command than an invitation.

Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” And Jesus told him to come to him, and he did, Peter began to walk on the water.

Peter could have waited for Jesus to get to the boat, but he was so happy to see his friend Jesus that he wanted to go to Him as quick as possible. So Peter is going along on the surface of the water just fine, until, it says, “he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened.”

How does one “see” the wind?  So he either saw something that wasn’t there, or he looked down at the waves, but either way, Peter took his eyes off of Jesus, we have no reason to believe that the wind was any worse than it was just moments before.

The change that occurred was in Peter’s heart, he took his eyes off Jesus and saw the world.

St. Augustine, in his book Confessions, said, “my weight is my love” meaning, my love is the true weight or gravity of my person - if my love looks downward, is attached to earthly things, it will sink by its own weight like a rock in the water.

But if my love yearns for God, it will rise, likewise by its own weight, like a flame seeking the heights.

So Peter’s fear is such that it enables him to “see wind,” and this is suddenly more real than the visible Jesus before him. Peter starts looking around, thinking about the human impossibility of what he is doing, and he breaks his connection with Jesus, a failure of his love and his trust.

Jesus saves Peter from sinking and they got up into the boat, at which point the wind died down and they made a profession of faith. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”

Similarly, we must make our own profession of faith.  Jesus is God and He is our savior, it is true or it isn’t, there’s no half way on this, ya know?

We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus during this time, stop looking around at the world and letting it bring us down, sinking us in the chaos, rather focusing on Jesus, what He has done, and what He will continue to do.

Our psalm for today said, “Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.”  We have seen his kindness, the many blessings that He has given us.

But we have also seen His salvation, how He suffered, died, and rose from the dead for the forgiveness of our sins, and we have to remember that.  If we are looking for the kindness or the salvation of the world, we won't readily find it, we only have one savior, Jesus Christ.

Put your trust in Him during this storm. Avert your eyes from all the media which shows just the worst possible things.  Keep your eyes fixed on Him and our love will hold us above the chaos.