Sunday reflection: Matthew 14:22-33

posted at 11:31 am on August 10, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

“Sunday Reflection” is a regular feature, looking at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection represents only my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussion. Previous Sunday Reflections from the main page can be found here.  For previous Green Room entries, click here.

This morning’s Gospel reading is Matthew 14:22-33:

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.”

As readers know, I spent a few days at a silent retreat last month, an annual event for me to recollect myself and commune with the Holy Spirit. It’s not easy putting the cares of the outside world out of one’s head to achieve that recollection, which I’ve described in earlier posts, but the addiction to noise is not the only distraction to be overcome at these retreats. The Jesuit retreat center is a lovely estate on a picturesque lake, a place of serenity and beauty that has its own pull on old habits. At each of the retreats I have attended, I have found myself looking through an amateur photographer’s eye at the natural beauty of the landscape, building a portfolio in my mind of the gorgeous grounds and shores along the edge of the estate. In fact, at some point I’ll probably ask the priests if I can return on one of their off days with my camera gear and create a book for others to enjoy, rather than spend my next retreat resisting the temptation to compose shots rather than compose myself.

Natural wonders remind us of the creative power of the Lord, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of worshiping nature in Creation as God Himself. There are parallels that make that trap even more attractive. Nature awes us in the original sense of the word with its massive and inexplicable power, as we see when earthquakes cause massive destruction, tornadoes appear out of nowhere to wipe out entire towns with little warning, or wildfires of any cause sweep across the landscape and lay waste to it. (I’ve lived almost all of my life in places where all three occur.) We have grown more in knowledge of nature and understand more about these events in an intellectual sense, but we tremble in fear when placed in immediate personal risk of any of them, or other massive natural forces. At other times, we see the beauty, diversity, and peace of nature, and can hardly resist the urge to draw parallels to God, or even believe that this is God.

But of course, nature is God’s creation, not the other way around. God created the universe and we live within it, but the the creation is not the Creator. This was the lesson taught to Elijah in our first reading from 1 Kings 19 today, the well-known passage that teaches how God truly speaks to us. Elijah went to the mountain as the Lord instructed to experience Him passing by, and Elijah felt the massive power of all the above natural forces. However, none of these was God:

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.

The prophecies of Elijah were well-known to all of Israel by the time of the episode recounted in today’s Gospel. The teachings were so well known, in fact, that both John the Baptist and Jesus Himself were thought by some to be Elijah returning to Israel to rescue them from bondage. Elijah appeared on Mount Tabor with Moses to speak with Jesus during the Transfiguration. The film The Nativity Story has a touching scene near the beginning of Mary and others teaching this very passage from 1 Kings 19 to a group of small children, which reflects the common understanding of Scriptures at that time that clearly instructed that nature served God and not the other way around — which the disciples would know better than most, through the healing miracles of Jesus.

And yet, because of its dramatic character, the disciples get very distracted by nature, to the point of losing trust in God. Jesus had just fed thousands of people with five loaves and two fish, another miracle that showed the transcendence of God over nature. They put to sea afterward, and got caught in a powerful storm — certainly good reason to worry, as a storm like that could swamp their boat or push them off course. They do not become terrified, though, until they see the supernatural — Jesus walking on the water, demonstrating His supremacy over nature. At first they do not believe that Jesus is not an apparition, and Peter asks to be given the same supremacy over nature in order to trust in what Jesus says.

What happens? Peter, buoyed by Jesus and his own faith, manages briefly to transcend nature himself. Even with Jesus’ example, though, Peter gets distracted by the power of nature and loses trust in God’s power. Peter immediately begins sinking — in other words, falls back into nature — but pleads with Jesus for salvation. Jesus then rebukes Peter for his lack of faith, but Peter didn’t stop believing that Jesus was there; he just lost trust in the power of God, which is the heart of faith itself.

We all live in the natural world, and it is not easy to maintain that trust, that faith, that God’s power transcends it. When illness and death strike our families and friends, especially in unexpected and tragic circumstances, we can be like Peter distracted by the winds on Galilee. When the consequences of our fallen human nature create tragedies and horrors, we look around and ask how it can possibly be within God’s will. We forget that these storms were created by us and not God, and that we must weather them and calm them to our best abilities while relying on God’s strength and providence to see us through to salvation.

Even apart from the bombast of physical and human nature, though, the passages today remind us of how we are to rely on God’s strength and commune with Him. At times during my retreat, I felt like the anti-Elijah when I focused on the dramatic expressions of nature around me. Had it been me on the mountain, I might have spent my time ooohhing and aaahhing over wind, the earthquakes, and the fire, and missed the “tiny whispering sound” that wanted to reach me and teach me about love and faith. I would have easily sunk like Peter in the fears and cares of the world, rather than remember the Lord who created it and me, and taken comfort and peace in Him instead.

We are to navigate this world and its dangers of nature, both physical and human, but with faith and trust in God and in our ultimate salvation from both. In the midst of the wind, the quakes, and the flames, just keep listening for the small voice within as you keep the Holy Spirit in your heart.

The front page picture is the view from the bow of a modern wooden tour boat on Galilee pointing toward the Mount of Beatitudes, from my own personal collection.


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Thank you again, Ed.

unclesmrgol on August 10, 2014 at 11:39 AM

Than you. Very well written.
The true function of nature is beauty.
And beauty is the most powerful force on earth.

Galtian on August 10, 2014 at 11:48 AM

Both Moses and Jesus Christ tried very hard to banish doubt and reassure doubters among their followers….miracle after miracle and still doubt and fear remained among the Hebrews and the
Disciples…..the followers always seemed to want something tangible that they could confirm with their senses but after being given sense proofs repeatedly their confidence and faith began to waiver all over again a few days later……….there is this constant never ending battle against doubt, probably because we are rooted in our senses

clandestine on August 10, 2014 at 12:26 PM

A couple of things, minor as they might be;

The universe as I understand it came from God, he set all this in motion. Isn’t it, and us, all a part of God, or is it more correct to view us and the universe as his creation, separate from him? Really nitpicking I guess. It makes a subtle difference in how you think about things, but perhaps it’s a sign of over thinking things too.

The other thing I wanted to say is that Peter sinking reminds me of dreams I have where I fly, but somewhere along the line I doubt own ability to fly in the dream and start to fall or descend to the ground. I’m wondering if this dream and the lesson of Peter’s faith isn’t one in the same.

God knows I have plenty of trials these days (and fail just about all of them).

Diluculo on August 10, 2014 at 12:45 PM

….. there is this constant never ending battle against doubt, probably because we are rooted in our senses

clandestine on August 10, 2014 at 12:26 PM

.
Y E S !
.
And our ‘biological computer’ is the battleground.

listens2glenn on August 10, 2014 at 1:49 PM

Ed,I hope you are seriously considering becoming a Permanent Deacon.You have a lot to offer your Diocese.

celtic warrior on August 10, 2014 at 2:24 PM

I’m sinking in the waters of doubt now. The love of my life died last December, and my heart is broken. He was everything to me. All I have left are his things in this house, and the house is going to be foreclosed at some point and these things, most of them, disposed of.

I don’t know what will become of me, and while I’m not suicidal, I have no relish for living without him. Find an apartment? Why? What’s the point, I have no energy for this.

I ask for God’s guidance but frankly, I’m freaking out and full of despair.

disa on August 10, 2014 at 3:15 PM

disa on August 10, 2014 at 3:15 PM

I have something to offer.
I watched the John Adams mini series recently. Adams and Jefferson were bitter political rivals. Adams refused to forgive Jefferson for what he considered outright slander.

Near the end of his life, however, a friend convinced Adams to make a move toward reconciliation, so Adams wrote a letter to Jefferson. In it he mentioned the tragedies that had befell him in his later years – the death of his wife and daughter.

Jefferson wrote back, and in his own inimitable way he spoke of how he too had tasted of tragedy. Part of one memorable sentence reads: “…ills so immeasurable time and silence are the only medicines.”

Time and silence. Let them do their work. Let them do their healing.

Galtian on August 10, 2014 at 3:41 PM

Galtian, my husband and I watched the John Adams miniseries together, and loved it.

I’ve been down before, and God saw to it that my needs were satisfied. That intellectual certainty is the only thing that aging has given me. At the same time, I’m older now and have less psychic energy for the often exhausting business of life.

Prayer has escaped me thus far, and I fear that God is forcing me to my knees now.

disa on August 10, 2014 at 4:23 PM

disa, I will hold you faithfully in prayer.

If you can cling to the faith that your Father loves you even more than you can know, and that He will not abandon you to sorrow, in time the darkness will pass. It will pass.

Mother Teresa always believed that suffering itself was prayer- that the pain substituted for the words that were too hard to speak. Christ, who Himself suffered the loss of loved ones and went through agonizing physical suffering, knows your present pain.

Dolce Far Niente on August 10, 2014 at 4:36 PM

I know that most of God’s blessings are painful and strengthening in the long run. I appreciate your prayers, Dolce.

My husband was God’s greatest gift to me in this lifetime. We waited for each other for decades before He saw fit to reunite us. This loss must make some sense, and is part of moving me to my next challenge.

Even Jesus asked to let this cup pass, but I’m all-human.

disa on August 10, 2014 at 4:50 PM

Our homily today focused on trusting in God despite whatever despair and difficulties you encounter. In the end, He will save you… and this entry really underscores the importance of belief in God, come what may.

chai on August 10, 2014 at 4:51 PM

disa on August 10, 2014 at 3:15 PM

I know you’re going through some very rough stuff Disa. I am too, but in comparison, at least so far, my misery doesn’t match up. That’s no consolation at all I know, sorry. I’m also wrestling with this faith thing. Not that I doubt God and Jesus exist, I don’t doubt that a bit.

My faith problem is in believing that I might, just maybe be worth God giving any consideration at all. I do not doubt his power, what I doubt is the caring. Why would God care about some low life like me? I don’t know yet. I haven’t got that blessing, that feeling that I know God cares and loves me even though mentally I know this must be true. I wonder, is it all a test?

The only thing I can say to you Disa, is reach out for help any way you can think of. Maybe you can’t keep your house, but you can call the mortgage company and ask for help, and a realtor to help you sell or even short sell the place. In the meantime have a garage sale, don’t hang on to the ‘stuff’, it’s full of memories, but really unimportant in the long run.

As much as I’m also facing many crisis on many fronts, I’ll pray for you too. Keep reaching out, even here! I did, and it did help me, at least mentally and emotionally if not spiritually.

I have to believe everything is for a reason. I have to, so should you. I cannot find reason to go on without that thought. There is a reason. Live up to the lessons, and ask for help.

Diluculo on August 10, 2014 at 5:51 PM

Our homily today focused on trusting in God despite whatever despair and difficulties you encounter. In the end, He will save you… and this entry really underscores the importance of belief in God, come what may.

chai on August 10, 2014 at 4:51 PM

I’m not arguing mind you. I agree. (yes, there is a but) But, belief in God isn’t enough when you are suffering. The angry man facing many difficulties raises his fist to God and yells, then asks ‘why?’, and there is no answer. No, belief isn’t enough.

Faith God exists isn’t enough. The fact that you are alive is not enough to prove that he cares and loves you. Having faith that he loves you and cares about you is a fantastic leap. Faith.

If you don’t have faith, the question is, how do you foment it? You can’t buy it with any amount of cash or sacrifice. You can ask, pray for it, it doesn’t come. What to do? It’s a serious question that needs a serious answer. One can easily and quickly become bitter over the question itself, and just the asking of the question offends so many. They say no it does not, but you can tell from the look on their face and the tone of their voice, or even their outpouring of pity that it’s tragic not to have this faith.

And nobody has this answer for you, and no suggestion of how to get it aside from “pray”, which does not provide any answers at all, I’m guessing, especially if you lack this faith.

A conundrum, at least for me.

The one thing aside from believing God exists I can have faith in is that one day, either in life or in death, I will discover this answer. I hope in life….jeez, I’m hoping in like the next day at least would be awesome. Nobody can promise that though, and the lack of an answer breeds further desperation.

So, the phrase “have faith” spoken to someone like me is a damnation, not a salvation. At least until I can feel it for myself. Yes, I pray for it.

Diluculo on August 10, 2014 at 6:04 PM

Diluculo, I wish for one moment I could give you the assurances you look for as to whether God values you.

Not that what an anonymous poster on an internet blog says makes a difference, but I know with absolute certainty that the Father loves you intensely and more passionately than any lover; that He is pursuing you constantly, hoping that you will just turn around and face the grace that He is pouring down on you like rain.

His love is so incomparable and its yours for the taking. He made you- He knows you inside and out and you are his deeply beloved child.

Would you reject an imperfect son? No matter what your babies do in life, good or bad; a parent can’t fail to hold them in their heart. Do you believe humans are better parents than the Father?

Turn around, Diluculo. He’s waiting for you.

Dolce Far Niente on August 10, 2014 at 6:18 PM

Two questions are brought to mind by this Gospel reading. This is rare for me — usually, I am awed by answers embodied in the readings.

Why did Jesus send the apostles off to sea? Did they not travel with Jesus, and how and where were they to be reunited?

Following immediately as it did the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, why would Jesus’s power to walk on the sea be so frightening to the apostles, who had just witnessed a similar demonstration of divine power? Are these two events related by some other meaning?

horatio on August 10, 2014 at 7:53 PM

Love the picture…nothing like being in Israel and reading Scripture comes alive.

crosshugger on August 10, 2014 at 9:09 PM

usually, I am awed by answers embodied in the readings.

horatio on August 10, 2014 at 7:53 PM

The first reading today has a clue.

ericdijon on August 10, 2014 at 9:34 PM

disa on August 10, 2014 at 3:15 PM

You have gotten such wonderful advice from the good people here. I agree with them all.

I will also be praying for you.

Please read my next post to Diloculo. I addressed it to her/him because she/he brought up some specific points. But it is for you, as well. From your posts, I think you both have more faith than you think. Even if you have faith “the size of a mustard seed,” it will be enough to see you though. Please, take heart and don’t despair.

May God bless you and hold you close to His Most Sacred Heart. Remember that “every hair on your head is counted.” You are never alone.

Elisa on August 10, 2014 at 9:47 PM

Diluculo on August 10, 2014 at 5:51 PM

Diluculo on August 10, 2014 at 6:04 PM

I understand what you are talking about. Since I was a little girl and as my faith matured, I always felt Jesus right there beside me. Around 20 years ago when I was around 33 yrs old, I went through a difficult time and crisis of faith. I still believed there was a God, but I was no longer sure that it was a personal God, who actually heard my prayers and cared about me and would answer me.

I asked God to show me His face, saying that if I could be sure I could endure anything, knowing that He was real and there for me. I know that sounds extreme, but I had a reason for believing that He might. He didn’t and I was angry at Him. During those months when I had a crisis of faith, it was like God was withholding His consolation from me. The only time I felt any peace was at Mass.

I would count my many blessings and compare myself to so many others who had worse problems than I did. But that would make me even madder at God that these other people were suffering.

During those months, I prayed all the harder, on my knees, with many tears or even beyond tears. Even telling God how mad I was at Him. Telling Him I felt afraid and alone. How I doubted He even heard me.

One prayer that I prayed often during the day, was the prayer of the father of the suffering boy in the Gospels, “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief.”

Try praying that often. And another short prayer is from St. Faustina’s Divine Mercy. “Jesus, I trust in you.” Even if you don’t fully trust and you doubt, it is an affirmation and helpful, that even when you don’t understand and don’t feel Our Lord’s consolation, you try to renew and hold onto your faith and trust God.

I promise you, that if you cling to Him, like a desperate child clings to His mother, in time, this terrible time will pass and you will be OK. Time is a great healing, as one wise commentator here said.

I know that the “Footprints” prayer can be a cliché, but in fact, after that time passed, I did clearly see that, while I was looking for God’s face and I thought He had abandoned me, in actuality He was the one holding me together and seeing me through. I just couldn’t see it at the time.

I said this to disa and I mean it for you as well. From your posts, I think both you and disa have more faith than you think. Even if you have faith “the size of a mustard seed,” it will be enough to see you though. Please, both of you, take heart and don’t despair. Remember that “every hair on your head is counted,” and that you are never alone.

I will keep you in my prayers. God bless you and keep always in the palm of His hand and close to His Most Sacred Heart, that is overflowing with love for you. That He give both of you his comfort and consolation and peace.

And you are right, one day you will know the answers. May it be sooner than later.

Elisa on August 10, 2014 at 9:50 PM

All of you here are such good people. May God bless you all and your families. Especially Ed. Thanks.

Elisa on August 10, 2014 at 9:52 PM

It’s like my husband took my faith with him. Submission to God’s will is a terrible struggle.

disa on August 10, 2014 at 11:03 PM

disa on August 10, 2014 at 11:03 PM

I understand. Yes, you are right. We all struggle with God’s Will in life at one time or another. Your anguish is normal and your resentment over why you must endure this is also understandable. In our human way of thinking it seems even somewhat justified.

This makes your struggle with acceptance even harder.

Maybe it would help to remember that God has an Ordaining Will (where He wants something to happen and makes it happen) and a Permitting Will (where He allows some things to happen.) For whatever reason we do not know or understand. Sometimes the reason is related to our lives and actions and sometimes it comes from something not direct to the situation, but all suffering is because of sin and evil in the world. Not just our own sins. Sin in the world.

Any pain you are enduring is not from Him. If you can believe it, He wants to remove your pain even more than you do. Like when a mother hurts more watching her child suffer than the actual suffering the child is enduring.

One day you will let Him remove the intensity of the pain and give you some peace, by accepting the situation first. On faith. Trusting Him. But it will come in time and when you are ready. God is patient and will always wait for you.

Elisa on August 10, 2014 at 11:30 PM

Elisa on August 10, 2014 at 9:52 PM

Thanks Elisa, I wont give up. I know God is there, somewhere. Sometimes it feels as though the closest I can get to feeling him is the sadness in not feeling him, if you know what I mean. Anyway, I will persist. Giving up is simply not an option.

It’s like my husband took my faith with him. Submission to God’s will is a terrible struggle.

disa on August 10, 2014 at 11:03 PM

Nah. Your faith is yours, it’s just shaken badly. You know, it just occurred to me that it might even be helpful to have a sit down with your priest or deacon (assuming alot here I know) or equivalent. I think I may just do that myself. The more I think about it, the more I know it’s a good idea. One of my problems is that my mother had a large hand in ruining faith for me when I was younger, before I even had an understanding of what it was and what it meant.

You had faith, so one of your biggest chores has to be remembering what that felt like, try to relive it. Your relationship with your husband was blessed by God (again, assuming), but your relationship with God does not and did not depend on your husband, it was between you and God first and foremost. Try reaching back in your memory and see if you can recapture glimpses of it and open it from there.

We’ve both got work to do it seems. At this point I imagine the sin would be not even trying, so try I will.

Diluculo on August 10, 2014 at 11:41 PM

Prayer has escaped me thus far, and I fear that God is forcing me to my knees now.

disa on August 10, 2014 at 4:23 PM

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities : for we know not what we should pray for as we ought : but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Matthew 6:8 …your Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask Him.

Indeed, our Father knows what we need not only before we ask, but also before we even figure out what we need.

I can only imagine how hard this would be if I were in your position.

GOD IS FAITHFUL! He sustains His children, and they cannot be seperated from His love, whether we are capable of comprehending how that is possible or not. Trust the word declared in Romans 8:37-39.

Dear God, please comfort our dear sister. Let your Word encourage her, and show her that she is not forsaken of her spiritual kin. Remind her of your constant grace, which rests in the immutable character of your divine omnipotence.
For your Glory, and that of your Son, Jesus Christ, in whose name we ask. Amen.

questionmark on August 11, 2014 at 12:00 AM

( sirens, whistles, and bells BLARING … red lights flashing )

* * * CAN OF WORMS ALERT … * * *
.
To those of you who believe it must be God’s will for you to be experiencing whatever ‘hardship’ it is that you are going through at the moment :

How did you arrive at that conclusion ?
.
I won’t respond until after sunrise, Monday … as I’m heading to bed.

Agree or not … blessings to all…

listens2glenn on August 11, 2014 at 12:03 AM

Thanks Elisa, I wont give up. I know God is there, somewhere. Sometimes it feels as though the closest I can get to feeling him is the sadness in not feeling him, if you know what I mean. Anyway, I will persist. Giving up is simply not an option.

Diluculo on August 10, 2014 at 11:41 PM

I am happy to hear that.

Perseverance, persistence in prayer, is so very important.

And if we ask God to help us, His Spirit will help us pray. “Inexpressible groanings.” Even when we don’t know how to express ourselves. Any noise we make or any thought we have, whether we understand it or not, God understands it, even better than we do. He hears us, from our hearts. Because He alone can read our hearts. All that matters is that (as you say) you try and offer your prayers, feelings, sufferings, questions, confusion, whatever to God.

Lay it at His feet and He will help sort it all out. Bit by bit. One step at a time. He isn’t going anywhere. He will wait for us.

Romans 8:26:
“In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.”

Ephesians 6:18:
“With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones.”

Philippians 4:6-7:

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Luke 18:1-8:

Then he told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being.

And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’”

The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.

Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Elisa on August 11, 2014 at 12:29 AM

Diluculo on August 10, 2014 at 11:41 PM

May I also suggest that you pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament?

Just sitting there with Him. In silence even. Absorbing His love. Prayer and talking to God and getting help and answers from God sometimes doesn’t involve words and God doesn’t need us to formulate perfect words when we talk to Him or understand ourselves or what we are even praying for.

Just sitting with Him, face to face.

Like that Saints said, “I stare at Jesus and He looks back at me.”

Elisa on August 11, 2014 at 12:33 AM

horatio on August 10, 2014 at 7:53 PM

You asked some good questions.

The 1st time Jesus fed the multitudes was this time, 5,000 men. (2 Gospels show Jesus feeding the multitudes a second time, 4,000 men)

Jesus feeding the 5,000 is one of the few stories that can be found in all 4 Gospels. And 3 of those Gospels (Matthew, Mark and John) follow it with the story of Jesus walking on water. Matthew is the only one that tells of St. Peter walking on water towards Jesus.

Why did Jesus send the apostles off to sea? Did they not travel with Jesus, and how and where were they to be reunited?

Like ericdijon said, the reason is in the first reading today from 1 Kings, because we find God in the silence. And Matthew’s Gospel here says the same thing. Jesus wanted to be alone to pray. He wanted quiet.

“Then he made the disciples get into the 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.”

This same story in Mark 6:46 says, “And when he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray.” Same reason as Matthew.

However, this same story in John 6:14-15 says, “When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.”

So a second reason must be that he wanted to be alone to get away from any people who had other ideas about what His ministry should be. He sent the Apostles ahead of Him to escape the crowds alone.

John 6:17 also says that “Jesus had not YET come to them.” “Yet” seems to signify that they expected Jesus to be meeting them at some point, so there was some arrangement.

Mark 6:48-49 says, “About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out.”

The 4th watch meant it was almost dawn. This Gospel seems to indicate that Jesus wasn’t intending at first to meet them while they were on the boat. That He was going to walk across and “pass by them” in the boat and meet them when they landed. But when they cried out in fear of the storm and fear of a ghost, He reassured them.

Following immediately as it did the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, why would Jesus’s power to walk on the sea be so frightening to the apostles, who had just witnessed a similar demonstration of divine power? Are these two events related by some other meaning?

The rest of the story in Mark seems address your point.

Mark 6:51-52:
“He got into the boat with them and the wind died down. They were [completely] astounded. They had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.”

To me, Mark seems to be saying that they had not yet been given the grace of understanding. Or they had not accepted that particular grace yet, for whatever reason. Perhaps the events of that day were so astounding on a human level, that they marveled at it on a superficial material level (like a magician,) instead of completely opening up their minds and hearts to who Jesus really was, the deeper meaning of all of it. Especially how Jesus cured the people that day because “his heart was moved with pity for them.” They didn’t understand God’s love.

Maybe someone else here has a further or better explanation for this?

Elisa on August 11, 2014 at 12:38 AM

questionmark on August 11, 2014 at 12:00 AM

Amen to all you said.

And amen as I join you in your beautiful prayer.

Elisa on August 11, 2014 at 12:48 AM

Good night, everyone.

Elisa on August 11, 2014 at 12:49 AM

Thank you so much, everyone, for your encouragement and your prayers. I will get through this with God’s help.

disa on August 11, 2014 at 6:31 AM

Elisa on August 11, 2014 at 12:38 AM

Thank you and ericdijon for your guidance and for sharing this depth of understanding. I believe as you suggest that my questions are answered in Mark’s story. Now I can truly begin to appreciate the wisdom of today’s readings.

horatio on August 11, 2014 at 8:16 AM

My faith problem is in believing that I might, just maybe be worth God giving any consideration at all. I do not doubt his power, what I doubt is the caring. Why would God care about some low life like me? I don’t know yet. I haven’t got that blessing, that feeling that I know God cares and loves me even though mentally I know this must be true. I wonder, is it all a test?

We know these things for certain:

1. Jesus died for sinners.
2. You and I are most certainly sinners.
3. The tomb was most certainly empty.
4. Jesus died not only for our sins, but the sins of the world.
5. Your sins and mine are certainly forgiven.

Our assurance lies in the question, “Was the tomb empty or not?”

It’s hard when God seems far away, but remember where Jesus promised he’d be! Not in our subjective experiences, not in our emotions. As C.S. Lewis wrote, those feelings come and go….mostly go.

He promised he would be there in the waters of our Baptism, and he is present in the bread and wine of Holy Communion. These are real, tangible, objective things we can point to and say “Yes, my feelings come and go, but I am baptized and I receive Christ’s body and blood, for the forgiveness of my sins.”

TheMightyMonarch on August 11, 2014 at 10:57 AM

One prayer that I prayed often during the day, was the prayer of the father of the suffering boy in the Gospels, “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief.”

I pray that one a lot, especially before receiving Communion.

The Sacraments are ultimately what brought me to the Lutheran church. Growing up Baptist, we were never taught that Baptism and Communion were anything but inefficacious memorials. But Jesus was not exactly one for meaningless, empty rituals. I try to argue with my Protestant friends, “Just read the texts on them! Baptism and Communion are for the forgiveness of sins! “This IS my body”, Jesus said! Baptism saves you, Peter said!

I struggled a long time wondering if I actually believed, relying on my subjective and fleeting emotions to tell me. But the Sacraments…these are real things that happened and are happening to me. Objective things outside of me, just as our salvation is completely outside of us. They really are a blessing, and those that reject this do themselves a great disservice because they rely solely on their ability to believe, which almost invariably is a function of their emotional state.

TheMightyMonarch on August 11, 2014 at 11:11 AM

I’ll be back tonight.

disa on August 11, 2014 at 1:27 PM

diluculo

Your advice about sitting down with a priest might not be a bad idea. I don’t belong to a church; my husband and I talked about finding one that suited us, but never got around to it. Maybe I’ll get in touch with the chaplain who did his memorial service.

I was reminded of the story of Jesus being a shepherd, often pictured with a lamb on his shoulders. I only recently became cognizant of what that was all about. When there is a lamb who refuses to stay with the flock, the shepherd breaks its legs and then carries it around until it’s healed. By then it will stay close to the flock.

I feel like I’m that lamb, and Jesus has broken me so I will be totally dependent on Him.

disa on August 11, 2014 at 7:20 PM

Maybe someone else here has a further or better explanation for this?

Elisa on August 11, 2014 at 12:38 AM

I think the 10-12 verses from 1 Kings 19 offer excellent typology linking the very old days with days ahead amid the life of Elijah’s life. Elijah – a prophet – knows of the God of Hosts, for crying out loud, and has just come off a 40 day walk to the mountain of God, Horeb with only a jug of water and a hearth cake. It’s safe to say that Horeb is where Moses was given the 10 Commandments. Not in the wind – like the wind blowing across the Red Sea? Not in the earthquake – like the earth opening and taking the lives of those around the Dwelling of Korah, Dathan and Abiram in Numbers 16 30-32? And also not in the fire where we may be most comfortable associating with the Lord’s presence. This time the Lord was not occupying any space to reveal himself to Elijah. Jesus walking on water was not occupying any space to reveal his divinity to his disciples.

How did you arrive at that conclusion ?

listens2glenn on August 11, 2014 at 12:03 AM

questionmark on August 11, 2014 at 12:00 AM answered this point somewhat in the previous post with:

“Matthew 6:8 …your Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask Him.”

The leap of faith one needs to make following this is that Grace is not a static volume in your lifetime, but the Father knows what amount of Grace is sufficient for you to carry you through your ordeal – you must keep your part of the gift of grace by always moving toward God.

ericdijon on August 11, 2014 at 8:43 PM

To those of you who believe it must be God’s will for you to be experiencing whatever ‘hardship’ it is that you are going through at the moment :
How did you arrive at that conclusion ?
.
I won’t respond until after sunrise, Monday … as I’m heading to bed.
Agree or not … blessings to all…
listens2glenn on August 11, 2014 at 12:03 AM

The “easy” answer would be to say that it’s happening, so it must be God’s will.

However, it may be best to find out if hardship is ever God’s will, so… “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Is 8:20)

There are two particular instances that declare how God works through His chosen people by way of hardship and even the sinful actions of men.

First is the case of Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers, and subsequently suffered false accusation and prison.

Genesis 45:4 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. 5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. 6 For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

Genesis 50:15 And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.16 And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, 17 So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. 18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. 19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

The greatest example, in my humble estimation, is this:

Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24 whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

Here it is shown that the greatest crime ever committed was absolutely according to the Will of God.

This, then, brings us back to the “easy” answer.
How is it possible that anything should happen outside of the will of the Omniscient, Omnipotent God?

I arrived at that conclusion only by the Grace of God, who opened my eyes to His word, wherein He reveals over and over and over again that He, and He alone, is the supreme ruler over all, who

…doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? (Daniel 4:35)

The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. (Proverbs 21:1)

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Phil 2:13)

God gives us life, and knows already the day when He will require that life back from us. How can this be known and ordained short of His ordaining of every step we take?

Now, God revealing His sovereignty did not answer nearly all of my questions – indeed, many more have arisen from that awareness:
What are my responsibilities?
What of my will?
Paul even poses another such question in Romans 9.

But all such questions about who man is and what role he plays can only be properly answered with an awareness of what God has revealed about Himself and what His role is.

My faith can find a sure foundation only in the knowledge of the absolute sovereignty of God, for His immutable attributes and sure promises are the guarantee of my salvation.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at. Hope that’s not too muddled.
And may God continue to bless you as well.

questionmark on August 11, 2014 at 10:35 PM

questionmark on August 11, 2014 at 10:35 PM

.
That’s the kind of thoughtful response that I was hoping to get from “anybody”.

Important : … much of what I’m about to share below is NOT on the pretense of teaching you things you don’t already know. Most of us who engage in ‘theological discourse’ at Hotair.com have expressed or displayed a level Bible knowledge that is “above average,” in my opinion.
Instead, it is an attempt on my part to tie together smaller or minor conclusions (that I believe we mostly agree on), to arrive at a larger conclusion, that it appears we do NOT agree on. But appearances can be “deceptive.”
.
The examples you used in Genesis concerning Joseph being sold into slavery, and Acts 2:22 when Paul was addressing a crowd concerning Jesus’ crucifixion are not valid, parallel examples or comparisons of the hardships we all experience (some much more extreme than others) in our everyday ‘walk-of-life’.

They do have a comparison to Abraham offering up Isaac as a ‘burnt sacrifice.’
But if someone today … claimed that God is requiring them to sacrifice their children as proof that they (the parent) are totally committed to Him, we would have them “committed”, alright.
.
Jesus’ crucifixion is directly compared to Abraham offering up Isaac as a burnt offering, and I would put Joseph’s experience in the same category, though it’s not an exact ‘parallel’. By that I mean these events were requisites that had to happen for God to eventually bring about Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection is THE requisite for us having a way back to God.

Today … the only hardships we are required to bear BY THE EXPRESSED WILL OF GOD are those relating to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.
.
On this basis, I’m rendering the following judgement (’cause I’m a “judging” kinda guy) :

The hardships described above are impediments to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, and
are NOT ordained/commissioned/willed upon any of us by our heavenly Father, the living God.

If you disagree with that, then all it means is ‘you and I disagree on it.’
It doesn’t mean I believe you or anyone else who agrees with you are disconnected from God.

listens2glenn on August 12, 2014 at 9:40 AM

The hardships described above are impediments to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, and
are NOT ordained/commissioned/willed upon any of us by our heavenly Father, the living God.

If you disagree with that, then all it means is ‘you and I disagree on it.’
It doesn’t mean I believe you or anyone else who agrees with you are disconnected from God.

listens2glenn on August 12, 2014 at 9:40 AM

I agree they are not ordained or commissioned or directly willed by God.

But unlike what I believe is your theology from past posts, Catholics and most Christians believe that God can do all things and EVERYTHING is under His control. We do not have to wait till the end of time to get rid of any covenant because of Adam (I’m sorry but I forget the exact words you once used.)

So, while I agree that our present suffering is not always part of God’s Ordaining Will, there is another kind of Will of God. His Permitting Will.

Because God is permitting this suffering for some reason we do not yet understand. (and it is in the end always a good and just and loving reason.) We know this by faith. The suffering involves sin and evil in the world, even to innocents.

God hates to see us suffer. But it is permitted sometimes. And if He permits it, then it is part of His Permitting Will.

I know you will not agree with this, because of the Adam thing you once explained, but hopefully you can see that God’s 2 types of Wills mean that we agree on your first point. Suffering is not ALWAYS ordained by God. Even if it is always under His Will.

Of course there are times when we create our own suffering and times when God (out of love) forms us or nations or the world by suffering.

Have a good day everyone and God bless.

Please pray for my father who is waiting to hear if his kidney cancer it the kind that will return and needs a heart procedure, my mother who is in bad shape, my mother-in-law who may not make it out of the hospital and my father-in-law who is very overwhelmed and confused and not listening to us.

Elisa on August 12, 2014 at 10:29 AM

“he just lost trust in the power of God, which is the heart of faith itself.”

Ed,thank you again for your thoughtful discourse on Bible passages. You do have a way of honing in on the kernel of truth. That sentence above hit the bullseye! Well done.

Bakokitty on August 12, 2014 at 1:00 PM

I agree they are not ordained or commissioned or directly willed by God.

But unlike what I believe is your theology from past posts, Catholics and most Christians believe that God can do all things and EVERYTHING is under His control.
We do not have to wait till the end of time to get rid of any covenant because of Adam (I’m sorry but I forget the exact words you once used.)

Elisa on August 12, 2014 at 10:29 AM

.
That’s okay, I forget things too.

The word I used is “lease”, and it means very much the same thing as we use the word in reference to ‘leasing’ an automobile.

Adam wasn’t responsible for instituting the lease. That was all God’s idea. But my point remains that God did turn “command and control” of the earth over to Adam for a certain ‘window of time’ that I haven’t found defined exactly, yet. But a parable (I think it would be called a parable) relating directly to Adam’s lease is found in [Matt 21:33-44], [Mark 12:1-11], and [Luke 20:9-18].
.
IF … someone was in a position of preventing a tragic event from befalling someone else, but they deliberately stood by and “allowed” the tragic event to unfold, how are they NOT equally responsible for the tragic event?

If God is in control, then what are we responsible for? … and what is God NOT responsible for?
.
I don’t believe in a “permissive will” of God, there is only God’s will … period.

But the fact that you do believe in it won’t stop me from praying for your parents, your in-laws, and even yourself.
.
Jesus
. . . . . Is
. . . . . . . LORD

listens2glenn on August 12, 2014 at 8:31 PM

On this basis, I’m rendering the following judgement (’cause I’m a “judging” kinda guy) :
The hardships described above are impediments to spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, and
are NOT ordained/commissioned/willed upon any of us by our heavenly Father, the living God.
If you disagree with that, then all it means is ‘you and I disagree on it.’
It doesn’t mean I believe you or anyone else who agrees with you are disconnected from God.
listens2glenn on August 12, 2014 at 9:40 AM

Alrighty then, Judgey McJudgerson!
I’m afraid I’m going to need more clarification. It seems you were speaking more specifically than how I answered….so….of which hardships do you speak, the ones I quoted or some others?

That said, I’ll add in part of your next post:

But my point remains that God did turn “command and control” of the earth over to Adam for a certain ‘window of time’ that I haven’t found defined exactly, yet. But a parable (I think it would be called a parable) relating directly to Adam’s lease is found in [Matt 21:33-44], [Mark 12:1-11], and [Luke 20:9-18].

I understand you are searching this out, however, it would have to be an unequivocal, outright declaration – not something esoteric hidden in a parable – to outweigh the multitude of scriptures that speak of God – not man – being in absolute control over all that has happened, is happening, or will happen. Of course, God did assign man stewardship over the earth. Is that what you are talking about?

IF … someone was in a position of preventing a tragic event from befalling someone else, but they deliberately stood by and “allowed” the tragic event to unfold, how are they NOT equally responsible for the tragic event?
If God is in control, then what are we responsible for? … and what is God NOT responsible for?

I get what you’re pointing at, but, what would it have taken to have foiled the tragedy? Is God “responsible” for all the sin in the world because He created it? Or, is the sinner responsible for his sin because he has his own will?

I don’t believe in a “permissive will” of God, there is only God’s will … period.

I agree with Elisa, that God either does it, or He allows it, which is His permissive will, but I also know where you’re coming from, and I can live with that.

But the fact that you do believe in it won’t stop me from praying for your parents, your in-laws, and even yourself.

Whew!

Jesus
. . . . . Is
. . . . . . . LORD
listens2glenn on August 12, 2014 at 8:31 PM

Ain’t no doubt about that!
I’ll just restate the question from my previous post, which I hope you will weigh and give your thoughts on: How is it possible that anything should happen outside of the will of the Omniscient, Omnipotent God?

God bless you l2g. I’ve always appreciated the good-humored, forgiving nature of your posts.
The few times I’ve seen anything other than that from you is after your patience has worn thin with some of our resident trolls. But hey, answer a fool, or answer not a fool; it’s hard to tell with them sometimes.

questionmark on August 13, 2014 at 9:14 PM

Jesus
. . . . . Is
. . . . . . . LORD

listens2glenn on August 12, 2014 at 8:31 PM

.
Ain’t no doubt about that!

questionmark on August 13, 2014 at 9:14 PM

.
That three-word statement is the one premise that ALL persons claiming to be Christian believers should … be able to find “common ground” within. You can disagree with me on EVERYTHING else, but that.

If someone who claims to be a Christian believer doesn’t believe that statement, then what is their so-called “Christianity” based on?
.

I’ll just restate the question from my previous post, which I hope you will weigh and give your thoughts on :

How is it possible that anything should happen outside of the will of the Omniscient, Omnipotent God?

questionmark on August 13, 2014 at 9:14 PM

.
“Adam’s lease” is why things happen (in this “physical” dimension) AGAINST GOD’S WILL . . . . . it’s my ‘point-of-contention’ that God’s WILL … is … NOT … IN … CONTROL … of what’s happening in this “physical dimension”, right now. However, I don’t claim to “know everything” any more than anyone else here, so I’ll stand corrected when the need of such correction become revealed to me.
And that’s how it should be with everyone. None of us can change our minds, just because some other “well-meaning person” else told us to. Things must be “revealed” to a person if there’s a correction needed, as pertains to theological belief and discourse.
.

God bless you l2g. I’ve always appreciated the good-humored, forgiving nature of your posts.
The few times I’ve seen anything other than that from you is after your patience has worn thin with some of our resident trolls. But hey, answer a fool, or answer not a fool; it’s hard to tell with them sometimes.

questionmark on August 13, 2014 at 9:14 PM

.
Awww . . . . . . . . . you’re gonna make me “blush” like Elisa: )

listens2glenn on August 19, 2014 at 12:46 AM