Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle A

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Matthew 14: 22-33

"Jesus put out his hand at once and helped him"

Jesus went up into the hills by himself to pray - to be alone, in silence, undisturbed, to savour the presence of God. In stark contrast the disciples were having a hard time - their boat far out and battling with a heavy sea - not at all, it would seem, suitable conditions for reflecting on the presence of the Lord. And yet, deep in the middle of the night, just when the pressures were greatest, Jesus was there, coming towards them, not expected and so at first not recognised. Yet truly, this was the Son of God, come to be with them in their hour of need.

Peter summoned up what faith he had and expressed his readiness to come across the water to Jesus. But as soon as his attention was given to the force of the wind instead of to Jesus his faith faltered and he began to sink. He became frightened and shouted out for help. "Jesus put out his hand at once and helped him", at the same time chiding him for his lack of trust, his lack of real confidence in the saving power of Christ.

In the same way the Lord is with us in all the ups and downs of life, in times of stress as in times of quiet, at times of darkness and difficulty as well as times of well-being. There are no circumstances or situations in our lives from which the Lord is absent. However, his presence is not always recognised, nor does it prevent us from having to the storms that afflict our lives. But he is there, with us in the midst of the storm, offering us the support we need to move forward in the midst of them. To us too he says: "Courage, it is I. Do not be afraid." It is certainly easier to acknowledge his presence in the calm and peaceful moments of life than in times of turmoil. Today's gospel assures us that the Lord Jesus puts out his hand still, and holds us when the storms of life rage around us.