Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
August 13, 2023
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,
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

Peter, ever volatile, always getting in before the other disciples, said: “Lord, if it is Thee, command me to come to Thee on the water” … He didn’t say, “Command me to walk on the water” but “come to thee,” for, there was none who loved Jesus as much as he.… Getting out of the boat, then, Peter went towards Jesus, more delighted to be going towards Him, than to be walking on the water. But after confronting the greatest danger, that of the sea, he was to give in to a lesser, that of the wind. Such is human nature! Often, having overcome serious dangers we are conquered by lesser ones … Peter had not yet been set free from all his fear … in spite of Christ’s presence beside him. For it is of no use to be beside Christ if one is not close to Him by faith. This is what emphasises the distance separating Master from the disciple …So if Peter’s faith had not faltered, he would have resisted the wind without difficulty. And the proof of this, is that Jesus grasped Peter ,while leaving the wind to continue blowing … Just as the mother bird supports the fledgling which has prematurely left the nest, with her wings, as it is about to fall and draws it back into the nest, so does Christ, with regard to Peter.  (St John Chrysostom)

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).

Why did the seas heave so and toss and pitch, even as if threatening its Creator? And why did Christ Himself, Who knows all the future, seem so unaware of the present, that He gave no thought to the onrushing storm, the moment of its height and the time of its peril?  While all the rest were awake, He alone was fast asleep, even with utter doom threatening both Himself and His dear ones. Why? It is not a calm sky, beloved but the storm, which tests a pilot’s skill. When the breeze is mild, even the poorest sailor can manage the ship. But in the crosswinds of a tempest, we want the best Pilot with all His skill! (St. Peter Chrysologus)

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 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.… 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).

You, O Eternal Trinity,
are a deep sea into which,
the more I enter,
the more I find,
and the more I find,
the more I seek.
O abyss,
O eternal Godhead,
O sea profound,
what more could you give me than yourself?
God’s grace, unsought and unearned,
blows through my life,
and all I need to do
is raise my sails to catch the full wind.  (St. Catherine of Siena)
Faith is never unhappy even when the senses are most desolate. This lively faith is always in God, always in His action above contrary appearances by which the senses are darkened. The senses, in terror, suddenly cry to the soul, "Unhappy one! You have now no resource, you are lost," and instantly faith with a stronger voice answers: "Keep firm, go on, and fear nothing."   (Jean-Pierre de Caussade)


“No news is good news,” so they say.  I think that works in reverse as well: “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 make me think the American experiment is about to fail miserably.  The winds of war in Ukraine are kicking up with ever greater force.  And it seems 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 keep us from praying.  So does God permit tragedy to strike, if that’s the only way to get us back on track?   Some people think so — as did most of the prophets who spoke God’s word to Israel.  
One prophet, though, learned there’s another way of seeing things.  The great Elijah came to hear God speak in a different voice.  Elijah was sure God spoke mainly in wind, earthquake and fire — in great and obvious ways that showed God’s might, and yes, God’s stormy side.  So whenever Elijah wanted to get people’s attention, he 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.”  Threats like these have always served prophets well.  I don’t deny it.
But one day Elijah 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.  They must have been glad to be near someone so mighty.  This was a Messiah candidate they could get behind.  But then, they got into a boat, set sail on that treacherous lake, one minute so calm, and the next, oh so rough.  For as with life, the Sea of Galilee 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 they did to turn God against them? What does this storm mean, these waters flooding the barque?  Would God have them drown so soon after the wind was at their back?  And where in the world was their Candidate?    
And then, in the middle of a squall and storm, came another voice.  One they did not know at first —  a voice that said, Take heart, it is I; have no fear (G).  And Peter — always Peter! — wondered if it really was his voice.  The voice he knew when loaves and fish increased and the sick were healed, but would he speak now 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.  Ah yes, God does speak this way — even when life wants to swallow us whole — when we are overwhelmed by a sinking feeling God will let us drown.  
But that other voice spoke again, the one that said to Peter, Come Just as the water crested at his neck Peter 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 to do, I know.  For my voice is still and small; it breezes by, a voice drowned out in the midst of storms.
So is God's voice to be heard in the din of political windbags?  No — but don't forget, you get what you vote for.  Is God's voice to be heard in the deluge of bombs falling on Ukraine?  No — but don't forget a little man with big plans started the war.  Was God's voice to be heard in the explosion of the Tonga volcano in January that put tons of water into the stratosphere, some of which came down in this summer's torrential downpours and could make global warming worse?  No — but don't forget climate change is due mostly to human activity and inertia.  
But how about in all the smaller tempests that blow up now and then in our lives, over which we have no control, and for which we cannot be blamed?  Yes — but but you have to listen hard for that voice, because it's not in the wind or the tremor, or the fire, or the rain.  It's in the middle of the storm.  The same voice who says to you as to Peter, Come Come and walk atop the waters that threaten you.  Don’t fix your gaze on the wind that frightens you.  That’s when you begin to sink.  No longer able to do what you thought impossible, what you never imagined you could handle.
And even should fear overtake you, the still small Voice says, I extend my hand at once to catch you (cf. G).  Just remember, I prefer gentler signs of my presence, like bread and wine: what you might never notice if you’re expecting me elsewhere: the Voice of One who is truly the Son of God. (cf. G).  God who is over all. . .[and] blessed forever.  Amen (II).

Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Web Site)

For the Church: that we may recognize God's presence in both the extraordinary and ordinary events of our lives so that we may cooperate with God more fully.

For the Jewish people, recipients of the promises and covenant, and bearers of great hardship: that they may ever deepen their relationship with God and remain faithful to the One who has called them.

For all who struggle with doubt and uncertainty: that they may find a path for growth and deeper faith.

For all who are recovering from the power of nature or other disasters: that God will give them courage, ease their pain, and speed the resources that they need.

For all who are experiencing the storms of daily life: that they may keep their eyes and attention on Jesus who strengthens us and calms our chaos.

For greater civility in public discourses: that all political leaders may show respect for their opponents, express their ideas and concerns thoughtfully, and work to promote the common good of society.

For all who are recovering from surgery: that God will relieve their suffering, speed their healing, and sustain them as they work to regain their strength.

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.

Communion Antiphon


Closing Hymn

Closing Anthem

Be still my soul, and listen.
Be still my heart, and hear.
Be patient in the silence,
And know that God is near.
Be still, my soul, and listen,
Away with earthly noise.
Be still, my soul, and listen,
And wait for the still, small voice.
Softly speaking, sweetly singing,
Gentle, it falls from heaven above.
Softly speaking, sweetly singing,
The music of the voice of Love.
Be still, my soul, and listen.
Be still, my heart, and hear.
The whispers of the Spirit fall
Softly on my ear.
In quiet contemplation,
I find a peaceful joy.
For breaking through the silence,
I hear the still, small voice.
Softly speaking.
Sweetly singing, gentle, it falls from heaven above.