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  • St. John's Church

Sunday, August 9 Readings


God Speaks to Families Through the Sunday Readings

First Reading

1 Kings 19:9a,11-13a

The Lord appears to Elijah in a whisper.

Responsorial Psalm

Psalm 85:9-14

Lord, let us see Your kindness and grant us Your salvation.

Second Reading

Romans 9:1-5

Paul speaks of the blessings that have come to the Israelites.

Gospel Reading

Matthew 14:22-33

Jesus walks on water and the disciples acknowledge Him as the Son of God.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s Gospel directly follows last week’s account of Jesus feeding a crowd of more than 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish. For the sake of the crowds, Jesus had postponed His time of solitude. Now, at last, Jesus finds some time for quiet and prayer. He sends His disciples ahead of him by boat, dismisses the crowds and then withdraws to the mountain to pray.

The disciples do not fare well. They struggle to weather the wind and waves, making little progress in their journey. We are reminded of a previous story in Chapter 8 of Matthew’s Gospel, when Jesus calms the seas. This time, however, Jesus does not calm the seas and the disciples do not express fear until they see Jesus walking toward them on the water. In this story it is not the storm that is feared but the sight of Jesus before them, whom they mistake for a ghost.

Clues like these suggest that this story is about the disciples’ growing understanding of the identity of Jesus. In continuity with last week’s Gospel about the feeding of the multitude, today’s Gospel is also about what the disciples’ faith in Jesus will enable them to do. In last week’s Gospel, when the disciples see the crowds, they ask Jesus to send the crowds away. Jesus turns the situa-tion around, telling the disciples to feed the crowd with the provisions that they have. Both of these Gospels tell us much about ministry.

Jesus calls to the disciples and calms their fears. He is not a ghost. The impulsive Peter seeks proof that the person is indeed Jesus. He asks Jesus to call Him out onto the water and Je-sus grants this request. Peter’s fear and doubt overtake him, however, once he is walking on the water. Jesus reaches out to Peter and saves him. When Jesus and Peter enter the boat, Matthew reports that the wind ceases, and the disciples confess that Jesus is the Son of God.

Faith in Jesus will enable the disciples to do the work that Jesus has done. Peter walks on water. The five loaves and two fish feed a multitude of people. The disciples can and will partici-pate in the work of the kingdom of heaven. When Peter fears and doubts the person of Jesus, how-ever, he falters. Peter’s example teaches us that true Christian ministry emerges from the faith that Jesus is the Messiah, God’s only Son.

Family Connection

The mission of the Church is to continue the work of Jesus. The family, the domestic church, participates in this mission too.

Talk about how your family participates in the mission of the Church. Discuss ways in which you seek to reach out to your neighbors and people in need through acts of kindness, mercy, and justice. Then read together today’s Gospel, Matthew 14:22-33. Talk about how Peter wanted to be like Jesus, to walk on water like Jesus did. Note that Peter was successful for a time, but then he doubted Jesus, and he began to sink into the water. Talk about how your family’s acts of mercy and justice are rooted in your faith in Jesus. Pray together that Jesus will continue to work through your family to prepare the kingdom of heaven. Pray together the Morning Offering or the Lord’s Prayer.

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