Reflection for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Reflection for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Oct 18, 2023 | Reflections

When we are faced with difficulties, turmoil and injustice in the world,  as believers need to firstly seek out the Lord!  But many people today only resort to faith and prayer as a last resort when all other avenues are exhausted.  Today’s readings remind us that seeking God’s presence should be our instinct in all matters.

In the first reading Elijah made a long forty day and night pilgrimage to Mount Horeb, where Moses had received the Ten Commandments. He was in danger because of the evil Queen Jezebel. Elijah had defeated her four hundred pagan prophets on Mt Carmel. He had thus humiliated the pagan Queen defended true Religion. On Mt Horeb, the Lord was not found in a mighty wind, or earthquake or fire, but in the gentlest of breezes.  There Elijah encountered the Lord.

St Paul in the second reading laments how Israel had received so much from God, the Ten Commandments, the Law and all the teachings of the Prophets, many miracles, but then for the most part, they failed to recognize the Messiah when he came. St John also talks of this in his Prologue.

We, however, have been given far, far more than the Israelites, lets ensure we never lose sight of the Lord through carelessness, but instead, be fervent and disciplined in our prayer and Sacramental life.

Do Not Fear it is I!

In the Gospel, just after the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Jesus instructs the Apostles to cross to the other side of the Lake, while he sends the crowds away. He then goes up into the hills to pray alone. If prayer was necessary for Jesus how much more necessary, it is for us to make space for quality prayer.  He gives us an example in this! Then after the Apostles had been battling a strong headwind and rough seas for several hours, they are exhausted from the rowing. Suddenly, in the fourth watch of the night (between 3am and 6am) Jesus comes walking on the stormy waters. The Apostles cry out in fear, believing they are seeing a ghost! But Jesus shouts: 

Do not fear, it is I. 

Peter is always the first to speak and says with faith:

 Lord if it is You, tell me to come to you across the water. Jesus says: Come!  

Peter starts walking towards the Lord with his eyes fixed on Him, but then he notices the wind and takes his gaze off the Lord and begins to sink and calls for help: 

Save me Lord! 

Jesus takes him by the hand and says: 

O man of little faith, why did you doubt?  

Once in the boat again, the Apostles fall down and worship Jesus, as the Son of God.

Today’s Gospel reminds me of the story of the English Sea Captain, John Newton (1725-1807).  Newton was the captain of several slave ships. Once when sailing off the coast of Donegal in Ireland, he had a near death experience when his ship almost sank. Although he believed himself to be an atheist up until then, in desperation he called out to God for mercy!  The Lord heard his prayer and saved him and the ship. This resulted in a profound conversion for Newton. He began reading the Bible and began to look upon the slaves with sympathy. He returned to England and became a member of the Anglican Clergy. He later wrote the famous hymn: Amazing Grace! For the rest of his life, John would be a vocal advocate for the abolition of slavery. He would live to see the end of it with the Slave Trade Act of 1807.  God was there for John Newton when he cried out for help. He is always there for each of us!

Prayer is always keeping the eyes of our heart focused on the Lord. His grace can bring us safely through every storm. When we are disciplined and make prayer a top priority, although the devil, the flesh and the world may tempt us and despite there being confusion everywhere;   we remain firm because our hearts are set on the Lord, who always keeps us safe. The Eucharist is the rock-solid foundation for a healthy life of prayer. In Eucharistic Adoration, we go heart-to-heart with Jesus.

The Rosary is also in indispensable spiritual weapon in coping with every storm and pushing back evil which has caused spiritual shipwreck in the lives of so many. The Immaculate Heart is our safe refuge, our port,  for the times in which we are living. Let’s all enter by consecrating ourselves to Her Immaculate Heart. We all need a Spiritual Mother who knows and understands her children. Tue devotion always leads us closer to our Saviour;  for Our Lady forms us in pure love for God and neighbour.

Praise be Jesus Christ and His Holy Mother now and forever!