Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
August 09, 2020
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.





Almighty ever-living God,
whom, taught by the Holy Spirit,
we dare to call our Father,
bring, we pray, to perfection in our hearts
the spirit of adoption as your sons and daughters,
that we may merit to enter into the inheritance
which you have promised.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

First Reading (1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-13a) 

At the mountain of God, Horeb, Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter. Then the LORD said to him, "Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by."  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.

Responsorial Psalm (Ps 85:9,10,11-12,13-14)  


R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.

I will hear what God proclaims;

the LORD — for he proclaims peace.

Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,

glory dwelling in our land.  R.           

Kindness and truth shall meet;

justice and peace shall kiss.

Truth shall spring out of the earth,

and justice shall look down from heaven. R.

The LORD himself will give his benefits;

our land shall yield its increase.

Justice shall walk before him,

and prepare the way of his steps.  R.

Second Reading (Rom 9:1-5)

Brothers and sisters:  I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people,  my kindred according to the flesh. They are Israelites ;theirs the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises theirs the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

Gospel Acclamation (cf. Ps 130:5)


Gospel (Mt 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."

Catena Nova

The Gospel tells us how Christ the Lord walked upon the waters of the sea, and how the apostle Peter did the same until fear made him falter and lose confidence. Then he began to sink and emerged from the water only after calling on the Lord with renewed faith. Now we must regard the sea as a symbol of the present world, and the apostle Peter as a symbol of the one and only Church. For Peter, who ranked first among the apostles and was always the most ready to declare his love for Christ, often acted as spokesman for them all. When he counted on the Lord’s help it enabled him to walk on the water; when human frailty made him falter he turned once more to the Lord. For instance, when the Lord Jesus Christ asked who people thought he was and the other disciples had cited various opinions, it was Peter who responded to the Lord’s further question, “But who do you say I am?” with the affirmation: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” One replied for all because all were united. When we consider Peter as a representative member of the Church we should distinguish between what was due to God’s action in him and what was attributable to himself. Then we ourselves shall not falter; then we shall be founded upon rock and remain firm and unmoved in the face of the wind, rain, and floods, which are the trials and temptations of this present world. Look at Peter, who in this episode is an image of ourselves; at one moment he is all confidence, at the next all uncertainty and doubt; now he professes faith in the immortal One, now he fears for his life. “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you upon the water.” When the Lord said “Come” Peter climbed out of the boat and began to walk on the water. This is what he could do through the power of the Lord; what by himself? “Realizing how violently the wind was blowing, he lost his nerve, and as he began to sink he called out, 'Lord, I am drowning, save me'!” When he counted on the Lord’s help it enabled him to walk on the water; when human frailty made him falter he turned once more to the Lord, who immediately stretched out his hand to help him, raised him up as he was sinking, and rebuked him for his lack of faith. Think, then, of this world as a sea, whipped up to tempestuous heights by violent winds. A person’s own private tempest will be his or her unruly desires. If you love God you will have power to walk upon the waters, and all the world’s swell and turmoil will remain beneath your feet. But if you love the world it will surely engulf you, for it always devours its lovers, never sustains them. If you feel your foot slipping beneath you, if you become a prey to doubt or realize that you are losing control, if, in a word, you begin to sink, say: “Lord, I am drowning, save me!” (St. Augustine).

Steer the ship of my life, Lord,
to Your quiet harbour,
where I can be safe from
the storms of sin and conflict.
Show me the course I should take.
Renew in me the gift of discernment,
so that I can see the right direction
in which I should go.
And give me the strength
and the courage to choose the right course,
even when the sea is rough
and the waves are high,
knowing that through enduring
hardship and danger in Your name
we shall find comfort and peace. Amen (St. Basil the Great).

The meaning of Holy Scripture reveals itself gradually to the higher senses of the more discerning mind when the mind has put off  the complex bodily form of the words which are formed in it.  This revelation is like a still small voice. Through a supreme abandonment of its natural activities, such a mind has been able to perceive the meaning only in a simplicity which reveals the divine Word.  This is the way that the great Elijah was granted the vision in the cave at Horeb. For “Horeb” means “newness,” which is our virtuous condition in the new spirit of grace. The cave is the hiddenness of spiritual wisdom in which the one who enters will mystically experience the knowledge which goes beyond the senses. This is the knowledge in which God is found. Therefore anyone who truly seeks God, as did the great Elijah, will come upon him not only on Horeb – that is, as an ascetic in the practice of the virtues. They will also encounter him in the cave of Horeb – that is, as a contemplative in the hidden place of wisdom which can exist only in the habit of the virtues. When the mind shakes off the many distractions about things which are pressing on it, then the clear meaning of truth appears and gives it pledges of genuine knowledge. These are given after it has driven off its recent preoccupations which were like scales on the eyes, just as in the case of the great and holy Apostle Paul. For thoughts about the mere letter of Scripture and the consideration of those visible things that hinder understanding are indeed scales which cling to the clear-sighted part of the soul and hinder the passage to the pure meaning of truth (St. Maximus the Confessor).

God is not at all displeased when, on occasion, you quietly complain to him. Don’t be afraid of saying to him: “Lord, why do you stand afar off? (cf. Ps 9:22 LXX) You know well that I love You and only long for Your love. Graciously come to my aid and do not abandon me.” If your desolation continues and your anguish is unbearable, unite your voice to that Jesus, Jesus dying in affliction on the cross – say, as you beg the divine pity: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Mt 27:46)  But profit from this trial, firstly, so as to humble yourself even more, while reminding yourself, that we are not worthy of any consolations when we have offended God and then, so as to revive your confidence even more by reminding yourself that, whatever He may do or permit, God only has your well-being in mind and that, in this way, “all things work together for the good” (cf. Rm 8:28) of your soul.  The more that trouble and discouragement besiege you, the more you should arm yourself with courage and cry out: “The Lord is my light and my help, who should I fear?” (Ps 26:1).  Yes, Lord, it is You who enlighten me, You who will save me, in You I entrust myself, “in you I place my hope, I shall never be confounded” (Ps 30:2 LXX). In this way, stand firm in peace, certain that “no one has hoped in the Lord and been confounded” (Sir 2:11 Vg.), none have been lost after having placed their trust in God (St Alphonsus Mary Liguori).

We have more storms in the story of Jesus’ disciples taking a boat across the lake. As almost always with Jesus, there were some human storms. Jesus had just learned of the ignominious death of John the Baptist as a result of a sophisticated mob violence at court. Afterwards, Jesus fed a mob of people who were hungry both for food and God’s Word. Matthew doesn’t mention this mob’s attempt to take Jesus by force to make him king but one can’t help but think that Jesus went off alone to pray because he needed to center himself again on his heavenly Abba after what had just happened. I’m inclined to see in the storm at sea not only a natural phenomena but an interpersonal phenomena as well. I wrote in my book Moving and Resting in God’s Desire: “The story of Peter walking on water — or trying to — also illustrates this aiming [to be centered on God]. (Mt. 14:28-33) The wind and the choppy waves represent our being overwhelmed by the mimetic movements that tend toward rage and persecution. When Peter looked at the waves instead of at Jesus, he started to sink. By himself, he would have sunk and drowned. By looking again at Jesus, Peter was pulled into the boat and the sea grew calm (Abbot Andrew Marr).


We’d never leave the boat


without the Son of Man


calling us to come


and walk these mountain waves,


churning valleys,


white-capped plains—


without worry?


The Master of the sea


has pierced the depths


below our sinking feet


and surfaced with leviathan thrust


to brace our thrashing hands


and be with us.


The Spirit at our back


we stride the surf


with strengthening trust.


We never could have dreamed


the deep below our feet,


obedient squall!


Our destiny—another league


where wind and waves agree—


the Father’s all (Rita A. Simmonds).


I weave a silence onto my lips, 
I weave a silence into my mind. 
I weave a silence within my heart. 
I close my ears to distractions. 
I close my heart to attractions. 
I close my heart to temptations.

Calm me, O Lord, as you stilled the storm. 
Still me, O Lord, keep me from harm. 
Let all tumult within me cease. 
Enfold me, Lord, in your peace (Ortha Nan Gaidheal
; a collection of Scottish oral literature).


That Sinking Feeling

            “No news is good news,” so they say. I think it’s just as true in reverse: “No good news is news.”  At least that’s the impression I get from the media.  For news hounds like myself, it’s hard not to feel like we’re about to sink into the abyss.  The political storms – chaos some call it – make me think the American experiment is about to fail miserably.  The pandemic surges unabated.  Civil unrest and deep divisions keep us as “socially distanced” as the virus does.  Beirut is in shambles. And I read this week that no matter what we do the looming environmental catastrophe is unstoppable. 

            I know that tragic experiences can serve as a “wake-up call” -- forcing us to view life in a different way, to pay attention to what we often ignore or neglect—including God and the things of God.  There’s nothing like a firm reminder of how fragile we are to get us praying again.  Just as there’s nothing like prosperity to stop us from praying.  But when things go wrong, everyone needs God.   And there’s no shortage of voices ready to interpret the signs of the times as God aiming to get us back on track  -- or worse, as divine chastisement.

            A recent poll by the University of Chicago Divinity School and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs that Americans who believe in God 31% feel “strongly” and another 31% “somewhat”  that the virus is a sign of God telling humanity to change. That includes 43% of Evangelical Protestants and 28% of Catholics and mainline Protestants.  Forty-seven percent of Black Americans feel this way regardless of education, income or gender compared with 37% of Latinx and 27% of White Americans.  Of course, most of the prophets who spoke God’s word to Israel would be in general agreement with these finding.

            One prophet, however, learned there’s another way to see things. Elijah, who was accustomed to hear God speak in wind, in earthquake, and in fire – in great and obvious ways that showed God’s might, and yes, God’s stormy side.  Elijah who, when he wanted to get people’s attention, could always point to such things and say, “See how God can blow you away, burn you down, and shake you up, so get right with God, or else.”  This same Elijah one day heard something else.

            God’s voice came to him not in the wind . . . not in the earthquake . . . not in the fire, but in a still, small voice like a gentle breeze.  That was such a shock to the prophet that when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle (I). For the prophet’s ears were not attuned to this voice of God: a voice that nudged, but did not push; a voice that whispered, but did not shout; a voice that soothed, but did not grate.

            It must have been like that for the apostles too.  They had just witnessed a great miracle, the multiplication of loaves and fishes.  Thousands of people were crowding to hear the Lord.  Things were looking up.  Their candidate was ahead in the polls.  And then, they got into a boat, set sail on that treacherous lake, one minute so calm, and the next, so rough.  For the Sea of Galilee, as with life, can change suddenly and without warning.  And that’s just what happ­ened.

            They were beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them (G).  The sea was heaving.  It looked like they were going down.  And they wondered what did they do to turn God against them? What does this storm mean, these waters flooding the barque?  Would God have them drown for some fault of their own?  So soon after the wind was at their back?  I’ll bet thirty-one percent of the disciples thought that way!

            But then, in the midst of squall and storm came that other voice, the kind of voice Elijah once heard.  And like Elijah, they didn’t recognize it at first: a voice that said, Take heart, it is I; have no fear (G).  Even Peter wondered if it really was his voice.  Peter who surely knew that voice when loaves and fish increased and the sick were healed but wondered now if would speak so gently, like a breeze, in the midst of a gale?  So Peter being Peter decided to test the waters -- and soon found himself sinking.  Oh yes, God does speak this way – even when life swallows us whole  and lets us drown.

            But then, he heard that voice again.  Just as the water crested at Peter’s neck he heard: Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt? (G)  See, I am not in the wind.  Or the rain.  For I make the wind cease, and I walk on the water (cf. G).  If only you knew my voice, you could walk there too.  You need not sink, or drown.  As long as you don’t confuse my voice with others.  It’s not easy, I know.  For my voice is still and small; it breezes by, a voice drowned out in the midst of storms.

            So listen for that voice.  It gives strength and courage.  The voice of One who says, Come (G).  Come and walk atop the waters that threaten you.  Don’t fix your gaze on the wind and the waves that frighten you.  That’s when you begin to sink.  No longer doing what you never thought possible, what you never imagined you could handle.

            And even should fear overtake you, remember what the voice says, I extend my hand at once to catch you (cf. G). And remember how that voice was heard above the water, not in wind, fire, or tremor.  The voice of One who prefers gentler signs of his presence, like bread and wine: what you might never notice if you’re expecting him somewhere else: the One we say is truly the Son of God (cf. G).  God who is over all. . .[and] blessed forever.  Amen (II).



Intercessions (Mary Grace Melcher)

For the church, that we may learn to discern the voice of God, not in wind and earthquake and fire, but in the gentle whisper that announces His passing by.

That God’s proclamation of peace may be a reality for the nations, that kindness and truth may meet and justice look down from heaven on obedient hearts.

That we may not faint and fail in our faith when we see how strong the wind is during the storms of life, but keep our eyes on Jesus, confident that in His power we also can walk on the waters.

For the children of Israel, who can claim the covenants and the giving of the law, the worship and the promises, that they may also come to recognize their Messiah in Jesus Christ the Lord.

For all who are fearful, anxious, depressed, or grieving, that they may hear the firm and kind voice of Jesus saying to them: “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid.”

For our faithful departed ones, that they may be with God on the mountain of His glory, pure and peaceful in His sight.

God of all power, your sovereign word comes to us in Christ.  When your Church is in danger, make firm our trust; when your people falter, steady our faith. Show us in Jesus your power to save, that we may always acclaim him as Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.

Offertory Anthem


In the night, Christ came walking
on the angry waves in the night, on the sea.
And Peter said, “Lord, if it be Thou,
Bid me come to Thee upon the waters”
(In the night, on the sea.)

And Jesus said “Come!”
And Peter walked on the sea.
But when he saw the waves, he was afraid,
and in fear lest he should perish, called:
“Lord, save me!”
(In the night, on the sea.)
And Jesus put forth His hand in the night
and rescued him from the sea.

Lord’s Prayer

With firm faith in the providence of God, we pray as  Jesus taught...

Spiritual Communion (Church of England)

Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits you have given me, for all the pains and insults you have borne for me.  Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, I ask you to come spiritually into my heart. O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may I know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day. Amen.

Communion Antiphon


Closing Hymn

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways;
reclothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard
beside the Syrian sea
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word
rise up and follow thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
where Jesus knelt to share with thee
the silence of eternity,
interpreted by love!

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm!