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i August 6, 1993 The Message Monthly -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 9 IIII Commentary -- A walk on the sea: A test for Peter Gospel Commentary for Sun- day, Aug. 8, 1993, Nineteenth Sunday, Ordinary Time, Cycle A: Matthew 14:22-33. By FATHER DONALD DILGER COLUMNIST The miracle of feeding thou- sands of people has just heen completed. Jesus orders the Apos- tles to gather the leftovers. This being completed, he orders them to get into a boat and cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. He stays behind to dismiss the crowd. Then he goes up into the hills to communicate privately with his Father in prayer. In the meantime the disciples were al- ready far out to sea as darkness fell. They were fighting a strong west wind and high waves At 3 a.m. Jesus comes to them walking on the water. The frightened disciples think it is a spirit of some kind. Jesus comforts them with the words: "Courage! I AM! Do not be afraid!" Thus goes the story in Matthew, in Mark, and in John, with minor differences. Luke omits this one. Why was this story preserved and included in three gospels? Wc noted last week how the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand in the wilder- ness was a recasting of the story of Yahweh feeding the Israelites through Moses in the wihterness of Sinai. Oht Testament influence is at work in the gospels when they connect Jesus' miracle of feeding the people with the disciples crossing tim sea. In the Old Testament Yahweh not only fed the people, he also brought about their safe crossing of the Sea. Jesus does the saule in our New rI'esta[ll(llt Ht , is cast in the role of Yahweh nt only providing food but also safety from (hmgerous waters. Both storie.s were intended as a lesson for the Church. Christians considered themselves either as the continuation of Israel or as the new Israel. As God cared for his ancient people, so God-Jesus continued to care for his people. From earliest times the boat in which the disciples crossed the sea was considered a symbol of the Church. Already in the 60s of the first century Christians had suffered persecution. The stormy sea represented that persecution. The story of Jesus walking on the water assured Christians that just as Yahweh is frequently said to be in control of a raging sea, so Jesus would gain con- trol of the persecutors and peace would return. This point of Jesus as Yahweh is made all the more clear at the end when he says to the disci- ples: "Courage! I AM," for that is what Yahweh calls himsdf in the Greek Old Testament. As noted above, this story is found in three gospels. Now Matthew adds another story found nowhere else, the story of Peter walking on the water, or at least attempting to do so This is one of the three traditions about Peter found only in Matthew. Matthew writes for the Churcll at Anti- och, a major Christian community where Peter seems to have worked his ministry for sometime. The two other traditions about Peter contained only in Matthew are these: the promise of the keys of the kingdom to Peter and the strange leg- end abcmt Jesus ordering Peter t) ,.:arch a fish in the mouth of tlm fish he would find the corr,:ct amount of money to pay the tern )!e tax for him- s;lt and f)r lesus. :\\;s our story of Jesus walking on the water and his assurauce to Ill(; disciples ends. in Matthew the ever-irrepressible Peter says: "I,ord, if it is you, order me to come across the water to you." Jesus says: "Just do it!" Peter steps out of the boat into the water, gets cold feet and begins to sink. He shouts a plea for help: "Lord, save me!" Jesus reaches out, takes his hand, and says: "Why did you doubt, O man of little faith?" Whether or not this story is history is of no concern to us. It was put into the gospel to teach something other than history. Peter is clearly the head of the Apostles in all the gospels. As all four gospels later show him denying even know- ing Jesus, so Matthew wants to depict him as being weak in faith. This picture of Peter enaMes Christians of all time, weak in faith as we are,to identify with Peter. If the man Jesus chose to be Shepherd in his place was weak in faith, how much more should we be consoled if we contin- uously go from faith to doubt to faith to doubt. With Peter and with all generations of Christians we cry out: "Lord, save me!" This prayer is al- ways a renewal of faith. It is this prayer that causes Jesus to reach out, to touch, to reassure that he is present even when we feel most aban- doned. Other readings: I Kings 19:9, 11-13; Romans 9:1.5. Gospel commentaries: Excerpts for the weeks ahead The gospel commentaries are regular features the Message. Following are excerpts from the ahead. Aug. 15, Assumption of Mary {replacing tieth Sunday, Ordinary Timel, Cycle A: 1:39-56, The Assumption of Mary: Basis in e Plus XII] uses mainly two texts from first one is the greeting of the angel to r: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you." second text used by Plus: "Blessed are you women." These are the words of Mary's Elizabeth as she greets Mary entering her The pope teachers that this fullness of grace bestowed on Mary was achieved completely only bY her assumption. Aug. 22, Twenty-first Sunday, Ordinary Time, Cycle A: Matthew 16:13-20. Simon Peter's profession of faith: .4 new name, a new function. Jesus now asks: "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter, the usual spokesperson for the disciples in all four gospels, answers: "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." .. Jesus returns the compliment. .., Simon is given a new name that describes his func tie rt for the people of God. Jesus names him "Peter," i.e., "Petros," the masculinized form of the Greek feminine word for "rock." Aug. 29, Twenty Time. Cycle A: Matthew 1t1:21-27. A messiah: Taking up the cross. .. Peter seems to understand the term Mes- siah" [as] a powerful military-religious-political leader. .. Matthew now places the first Passion pre- diction of Jesus as a corrective, and establish his kingdom politics but through suffering. A strPmgo ide a ha? deed. Peter must have thought .... Support your local pro-life organizations MILLER & MILLER "A family name you can trust" 424-9274 I EVANSVILLE SERVICE AND SHOPPING GUIDE II I 00!t3 ", Four ZIEMER-SHEARS Convenient Locations EAST CHAPEL 800 S. HEBRON AVE= DO'W-N-T.O WN :IO1 MAIN ST, VINCENNES. IN 47591 iiii i i i ii i i: i FOR THE BEST amvm :': PLUMBING SERVICE lr, llIBIr RESIDENTIAL COMMERCIAL Sales & Service TV & 2-Way FM 484 S. GOVERNOR AT CANAL 1916 W. FRANKUN STREET ! PHONE (8121423-7849 i Carpet Cleaning Herman Goebel Motor Co. 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