Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Commentary for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time by Sr. Jennifer Mechtild Horner, OSB

In last Sunday’s gospel, we heard the powerful story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. The apostles wanted Jesus to send the crowd into neighboring towns for food because they did not believe that they had enough to give. Jesus, taking the little they did have, shows them that a little is enough and becomes abundant when shared in the service of the Kingdom.

In today’s gospel, we meet Jesus sending the disciples before him to the other side. Jesus dismisses the crowd and then goes up the mountain alone to pray. The disciples, meanwhile, are caught in their boat in the midst of a storm on the lake. If you have ever been caught on the water during a storm, you can understand the fear that overtakes them. Buffeted by winds on every side, I imagine the disciples feared for their lives. They look up and see Jesus walking toward them on the sea. And they were terrified. Now one would think that after all they have experienced in Jesus’ ministry – the healings and the miracle that they had witnessed just some time before – that they would have recognized Jesus. But they don’t. They think it is a ghost and cry out in fear. Jesus immediately calls out to them “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.”

It is not surprising that it is Peter that responds to the voice of Jesus. After all, it seems that Peter is always the one that responds to Jesus with boldness. Jesus invites Peter to “Come,” to walk to him on the water. Peter steps out of the boat and walks on the water to Jesus. That is until he turns his eyes to the wind that is blowing all around him. As soon as he turns his sight from Jesus to the wind and storm around him, he begins to sink.

Isn’t that how it is? If we keep our eyes on Jesus, we can walk through most any storm. And yet, it is so easy to be distracted by the storms of life – the struggles and dark times of our life – that we take our eyes off the One who can save us and focus on that which will pull us down. Jesus beckons us to come to him - to walk to him through the storms of our own life. We can do so if we keep our eyes on Christ who constantly beckons us to come to him.

Benedict offers us a way to keep our eyes on Jesus. Through the Litrugy of the Hours, Lectio Divina, Eucharist, holy relationships and the gift of the common life we live in a school of the Lord’s service. If we are faithful to living the monastic way of life we will learn how to keep our eyes on Jesus through all that life offers and demands of us.

Will we sometimes be distracted by the storm around us and take our eyes off Jesus? Yes! And it is at those times that Jesus will reach out his hand and catch us. But the call will always be to get up again and walk to Jesus keeping our eyes on him all the way.

No comments: