Posts Tagged ‘Matthew 14:22-33’

The price for taking one’s eyes off the prize

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Today I read two very different things that hit me in a big way.

Quote from classic literature’s favorite mother

The first was a quote from a biography I am currently reading on the life of Abba Alcott, “Marmee” of Little Women (Marmee, the Mother of Little Women by Sandford Meddick Salyer). This quote hit me right between the eyes:

From Abba Alcott: ” ‘Let not your left hand know what your right hand doeth’ is a safer principle than that degree of caution which does little on faith and less in love.”

Balking at His call . . .

Yesterday I balked when the Lord asked me to do some ministerial work. An event was being proposed by a dear friend, someone I have worked together with several times, and our work has always born good fruit.

Excuses, excuses . . .

Yet yesterday I found myself filled with misgivings about the offer and I wrote back, citing a full calendar due to my commitments to the Commission for Women of the Diocese of Worcester as its new chairman (and our upcoming women’s conference, Gather Us In 2011), plus a confirmation retreat happening the weekend after the proposed event.

I wrote back my friend, citing the long drive to his church, the time away from my family, the fact that I don’t have the stamina I used to have, etc., etc., etc. . . .

I even wrote, “I hope this doesn’t sound like copping out (maybe it does).”

What about love?

That’s why Abba Alcott’s quote hit me right between the eyes. All my misgivings were all about me. I wasn’t even giving God a chance to lead me through it. My heart was small, like the Grinch who stole Christmas. The last phrase, that degree of caution which does little on faith and less in love.” hit me with a thud.

Needless to say, I wrote back to my friend today and told him I was interested.

Walking or sinking?

Then today I read an outstanding meditation from the RC Catholic Spiritual Direction blog, using the Gospel reading for this coming Sunday, Matthew 14:22-33. It’s the story of Peter, walking on the water. The title is “Why Do We Doubt?” and it maintains that we don’t keep our eyes focused on Jesus.

Hmmm. That sounds like something I was unwilling to do in accepting the proposed event from my friend. At least Peter gave Jesus a chance! I didn’t.

God’s bright, probing light

During my ride into work today I suspended my usual routine and just listened to music so I could reflect. God took that time to shine that bright-but-painful light into my inner self, revealing a spirit of cowardice, a lack of faith, a heart that is still too small, and a life still stuck in the mud.

A firm and loving message

While that bright light was harsh, it was also loving. Throughout the examination, I felt the presence of God encouraging me to continue on and not allow myself to get discouraged. His presence was firm and His desire was clear – keep my wandering eyes and heart fixed on Him! He alone is worthy of trust – He is the Prize.

Be like Peter – accept the invitation to walk on the water. But don’t be like Peter too – never take your eyes off the Prize.

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Following up on the healing

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

As you may recall from my last post, my singing voice was healed through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary while singing the rosary. I also mentioned that a lot of the healing was psychological, that in fact, through her intercession, God showed me how I could sing so as not to damage my voice – He opened my mind to the proper techniques. Yesterday at mass, I had to put all of that to the test.

Normally I sing with a partner, Kathleen (who is a dream partner, by the way). She plays piano beautifully, has a nice clear voice and we work really well together. I lean on her a lot. Yesterday she could not be with me, so this first test of singing had to be done solo.

At first I was terrified! Intellectually I knew what to do and my faith told me just to hang on to Jesus like St. Peter did when he started walking on the water. I knew I had to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus to get over my fear.

And again, that voice: “Why don’t you believe?”

The first song, “City of God,” was a little rough! It’s a hard song to start off with and my fear was getting the better of me. But I kept thinking of St. Peter and forced myself to keep my eyes on Jesus.

By the time I sang the responsorial psalm, I knew I was going to make it. After all, I was singing, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, of whom should I be afraid, of whom should I be afraid?” My whole body relaxed and my voice came out nearly without effort.

The rest of the mass went off just fine. I had to pay close attention to technique to make sure the voice was being used properly but it didn’t distract me the way I thought it would. I just kept my eyes on Jesus.

By the end of the mass, I was singing out “We Are Called” in full throttle, happy and tremendously grateful that I had gotten to the other side. I walked on water and Jesus made that possible!

I am therefore very thankful that I lost my voice over the holidays. I’ve learned several important things:

1. Don’t depend on myself alone.
2. Take good care of the gifts I’ve been given by God
3. Stop drowning out my dear partner – we need to sing like a true du0!

Humility. That was the big lesson. And how bitter/sweet it was!

Can we break out of old beliefs to embrace the new?

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Matthew 14:22-33 (New King James Version) – Jesus Walks on the Sea

22 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. 23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. 24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea,[a] tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.

25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.

27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous,[b] he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”

31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

33 Then those who were in the boat came and[c] worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”

I heard this reading on the Verbum Domini podcast but the translation was a little different. Verse 31 in that reading had, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” That jumped out at me.

I thought about Peter having the courage to walk on the water towards Jesus, embracing the new faith he had found. But then, he took notice of the ‘old’ around him – the raging wind, the cascading waves, and he fell back into that ‘old’, lost his faith, and began to sink.

Jesus had mentioned in Mark 2:18-22 about the danger of pouring new wine into old wineskins – the wineskin would break and not be able to hold the new wine. I pondered this image as I thought of Peter first stepping out in faith, and then stepping back into his old patterns.

How many times have we have it said in our parishes – “Why change, it’s always been done this way.” How many of us have had a great idea that we think will help and when we propose it, the reply is, “why change, we’ve always done it this way.” People are refusing to step out in faith, they are refusing to discard the old wineskins.

It all fits in with Jesus coming to fulfill the law rather than discard it. He wanted to radically change us, transform us, just like he was transfigured on Mount Tabor.

How much faith does it take to allow ourselves to be transformed in that way? Could we have been like Peter, walking on the water towards Jesus, even if for a brief moment? Imagine the change that would bring to our lives and to our world if we could do that!