Welcome to Green Reflections, the blog dedicated to reflections on the readings from the Roman Catholic Sunday Lectionary, with particular sensitivity to the needs of the earth. Use this blog to deepen your own awareness of our Creator's desires for the planet and ways that we can appreciate God's goals for the earth,giving it the loving care that it deserves.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

August 7, 2011 – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Kg 19:9, 11-13 Rom 9:1-5 Mt 14:22-33

The following is an excerpt from a fictional conversation between 2nd century catechumen, Respecta, and her teacher, Petras.

Respecta shivered. “I don’t like ghost stories and I am surprised that the twelve believed that Jesus was a ghost when he walked on the water toward those in the boat.”

“That’s interesting, Respecta,” Petras replied. “Let’s explore why you don’t like ghost stories to begin our conversation today.”

“Doesn’t everyone fear ghosts?” Respecta began. “After all, they are malevolent spirits that can wreak havoc in our lives. I wouldn’t ever want to meet up with a ghost!”

“I am not sure everyone fears ghosts, much less believes they exist. In the first century when Matthew’s gospel was written, Mediterranean peoples believed in all kinds of spirits. They thought of spirits that governed weather, spirits that caused waves on the ocean or earthquakes on shore. They thought some spirits were mischievous and others were malevolent. The disciples in the boat in today’s gospel reading, likely believed that a malevolent spirit whipped up the sea and was trying to kill them.”

“My people think like that, too,”Respecta observed. “In fact, we have believed that there were all kinds of gods who were angry or jealous, and that we needed to appease them for our safety.”

“Then you might understand how it is that Jesus’ disciples were afraid when they saw him walking on water. They already were afraid for their lives, believing that some evil spirit wanted to kill them when Jesus appeared. In the wind, rain and darkness before dawn they wouldn’t have been able to see well, so it is natural that they thought Jesus was a ghost. Jesus had to reassure them it was he. He told them, ‘Be brave, it is I; do not be afraid.’”

“He knew their feelings and addressed them right away. It is one of the characteristics that I love about Jesus,” Respecta commented.

“Yes, he didn’t want them in distress. At the same time, Jesus was surprised that they had so little trust in God and in him. I imagine that Jesus wondered how it was possible after the multiplication of loaves and fish that the disciples still had more fear of malevolent spirits than trust in his love and power.”

“I can see that, especially when Peter began to walk on the waves but then became afraid and started to sink.”

“Isn’t that a lot like most of us, Respecta? It is so easy to trust God when things are going well, but when trials come we are not so sure that God has the power to save us. We become like Peter and cry out, ‘Lord, save me!’”

“Doesn’t God want us to cry out to him, Petras?”

“Certainly. But God hopes we’ll cry out to him in trust, not out of fear or doubt. Remember, Jesus reached out to Peter immediately and took him by the hand to save him. So, we need to reach out our hands in complete confidence that God cares for us and sees our needs before we even ask.”

“That’s easy enough when troubles are small. Sometimes, though, we live in fear that things will never change and we’re going to suffer for a long time. It’s hard to believe that God will save us from all suffering.”

“Respecta, I am not saying that at all. The God who allowed Jesus to suffer and die does not save us from all the trials that come our way; not at all. Yet, Jesus trusted in God who raised him up from death. That is our hope, too. God walks with us in all our sufferings. God suffers with us, cries with us and loves us through all that happens. Even when our fears come true, God is with us through it all. Our hope is that we, like Jesus, will be vindicated in our hope. God will raise us up to eternal life. When that happens, all the trials and fears we had will be seen in the light of love and they will seem very small compared to the love of God and God’s plan for our eternal joy.”

“Your hope inspires me, Petras. At the same time, it is hard for me to imagine trusting God so much that I stop worrying about everything. That really would be like walking on water!”

“Perhaps, you want to keep in mind Elijah’s experience of God. In all the destructive elements that came his way, the wind, the earthquake and the fire, God was not speaking. Our God is not a god of destruction. Rather, God came in silence or the tiny whisperings of Elijah’s heart. Life can clamor at us. Pay attention, life calls out! Pay attention to all the fears that can take over; fear about loss of work; fear that children will be lost; fear of loss of health; fear of wars; fear of death. These fears almost yell at us, drowning out the still, quiet place in our hearts where God moves and speaks. It is so important to lay our fears at Jesus’ feet and be still. Trust that he knows what is best for us and will take care of us. When we trust him, the voice of fear quiets. Only then can we listen to his voice in our hearts.”

“I think it might be a good practice to take my fears and place them in front of Jesus daily.”

“That’s a good idea, Respecta. As your trust in Jesus grows and grows, your fears will lessen. You will be able to more easily hear his voice in your heart. When you lessen fear, your worship will also become more joyful.”

“That will be wonderful.”

Reflection question: What worries about the environment do I carry that I want to hand over to Jesus today?

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About Me

The Green Nun earned an MA in theology from the Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley and is currently completing a Masters degree in Earth Literacy from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana. This blog spot is being done as an integration project for the MA.

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