Matthew 14 is a jam-packed chapter. It begins with the beheading of John the Baptist. Next, Jesus feeds the large crowd of 5000. Finally, Peter walking (and sinking) in water occurs in Matthew 14: 22:36.
The miracle of Jesus walking on the sea waters is astonishing by itself. But it takes on a whole new and deeper meaning when looking at the events leading up to it.
Jesus was in a state of mourning. His cousin and friend, John, was murdered by King Herod. Christ is fully God AND fully human. In his human nature, Jesus experienced human emotions. Losing John the Baptist most certainly caused him deep sadness.
How have you reacted when a family member or friend dies?
When my grandpa passed away a few years ago I needed a bit of alone time to process his death. And I also needed time to pray.
Likewise, Jesus sought solitude to properly grieve. Saint Matthew tells us, “Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself” (Matthew 14:13). The evangelist doesn’t detail how long Jesus stayed alone but the crowds followed Christ in the next verse. Experiencing hunger and there not being enough bread to feed everyone, Jesus intervened and multiplied the loaves and fish to satisfy the people’s hunger pains.
According to Matthew 14: 22-23, “Immediately, He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away.23 After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.” Jesus persisted in seeking a time and place to pray to God the Father. He still needed time to pray.
That’s the context leading up to Jesus (and Peter) walking on water. Later this week, I will go over a few of the insights I gained from this Gospel story during Mass and my priest’s homily.
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Our world needs God. This year has definitely reminds us sin exists. We don’t require a dictatorial Supreme Being who imposes rules and restrictions. The backlash caused by the lockdowns across the United States reminds me of the Israelite people in the book of Exodus.
Freedom from slavery didn’t free them from selfish tendencies. Moses asked God, “O Lord, do come along in our company. This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins, and receive us as your own (Exodus 34:9).
The easy thing to do during a crisis is to play the blame game. Bad police. Inept politicians. Rage-filled rioters. But the way to true change is not in resentment or scapegoating. Authentic change for a better world is a narrow gate.
Saint John tells us, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Trinity Sunday is about unity. The devil divides. In fact, the Greek word for devil, diabolos, means “to divide”. Satan aims to please the self and divide us from the multiplying force of God’s love.
Jesus came to save us from the Great Divider. Last week the Church celebrated the Feast of Pentecost, the Arrival of the Unifying Holy Spirit. While Jesus ascended back to the Father he did promise the Apostles (and us) to send a Helper. Two thousand years later, the Holy Spirit has continued to guide the Church.
The Feast of the Most Holy Trinity celebrates the truth that God is love. Three Persons. One God. It is the simplest, yet most mysterious Christian truth.
Know Thy Enemy
Our common enemy hates Love and works to sow division. Satan’s common tactics include:
Destroy the family–> the family is an image of the Holy Trinity. Satan despises this reminder of God to the world. Divided families lead to divided societies.
Attack when holiness is increasing–> Venerable Fulton Sheen said, “Satan always tempts the pure (holy)—the others are already his.” I find that temptations find me quickly after I receive the Sacrament of Confession. The Devil wants to wound healed souls.
Transform suffering into hopelessness–> Satan “hopes” pain leads people toward despairs. He wants suffering to remain at the chaotic (meaningless) level.
Love Transforms Suffering
C.S. Lewis wrote in A Problem of Pain, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world” (p.91). I used to think suffering meant I did something wrong. My understanding of suffering was immature— obey God’s laws and receive rewards but disobey and get punished. The Israelites didn’t listen to God even when He freed them from Pharaoh’s tyranny. Read about the Golden Calf incident in Exodus 32. Moses was PISSED OFF. And rightfully so.
Who else remembers watching “The 10 Commandments” every Palm Sunday? What a classic!
What was the Israelite’s punishment for worshipping a false god? Longer time spent wandering (aimlessly) in the desert. God could have compelled their obedience, yet Love doesn’t operate as a dictator. Freedom necessarily involves the potential of suffering (based on our choices).
Our world is always going to be in turmoil (2020 is not the exception on suffering, but the rule). No amount of sin can separate you from God as long as you sincerely seek repentance **stops typing and jumps for joy**. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit— undivided Unity. Reflect on the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity this week. Ask God to give you the strength to endure your daily struggles and joy to notice the wonders in your life.
P.S. Congratulations for reaching the end of this article (or maybe you skimmed). I would play a fanfare on my silver trumpet but I think my mom sold it **jots down ‘new trumpet’ on post-it note**.
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