19th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Sunday, August 9, 2020

Father Fred Scinto's picture

Father Fred Scinto

July 28, 2020

“We have all taken steps out in faith” (Margaret Bick, Living With Christ commentary in the missalette) and found out that Faith was enough; at our core, we know God is with us.

Note that today’s Entrance Antiphon (from Psalm 73) speaks of “us” (not I nor me); it also acknowledges the “poor ones” and “those who seek you.” Develop these powerful visions as you begin today’s Mass.  The Collect or Opening Prayer speaks of the Holy Spirit that enables us in worship.  This Collect reminds us that we are “sons and daughters.” Catch the intimacy here that declares God is our Father/Mother. And who inherits? Only children! So we are truly God’s children.  Let this approach humble you when you are at Mass.

Today’s First Reading is a key reading of our basic Faith.  God is not in the “great wind” and not in the earthquake and not in the fire but in the SILENCE.  God is gentle, sensitive, readily available, and totally approachable (especially because God invites us to approach Him/Her.)

Note the presence of Elijah in this reading.  Elijah is “the most notable of the ecstatic prophets of the 9th century BCE, coming in time between the orgiastic band of prophets who encountered [King] Saul…and the classical prophets of the 8th century BCE…Elijah is the champion of Yahweh the only God and the judge Who defends the defenceless and exacts vengeance… [Jewish tradition held] [that] Elijah would come before the day of the Lord.” (Doctor W.R.F. Browning, Oxford Dictionary of the Bible).

The Responsorial Psalm manifests a God Who gently shows us His/Her steadfast love and Who seeks to interact deeply with us (in speech that is very gentle and loving).  Note the following divine characteristics here: God speaks peacefully to us, His/Her salvation is at hand, He/She is faithful, righteous, and loving as our source of all that is good, and this God comes to us.

The Second Reading is very theological and rich.  It really is applicable to our day because today we sometimes encounter Christians who are anti-Semetic and this totally is a non-Christian position.  This heresy denies the biblical understanding that the Jewish people were/are the first people God loved and the Church received the Lord through the intermediary of Judaism (see #4 of the Declaration on Non-Christian Religions of Vatican II).

Furthermore, do not miss the following aspect of today’s Second Reading. Note Saint Paul’s desire for his Jewish People for whom he is willing to be “accursed” (lost to God) so that they can be adopted as God’s children (“children of Israel”) who have been given and possess glory, covenant (a very special relationship with God), and law (the path of full salvation).  For Paul, Christians have a very special relationship with the Jews, God’s People, and with Christ the Jew. Wow! All of this should make each of us stand in awe, wonder, and fascination before ourselves and before each other.  Here we have a glorious picture of what true salvation is!ere we H

We have heard today’s Gospel so often that we take it for granted and that is not good!  Please let you and me see clearly here how much Christ wants and desires to be with us!  In this He does the impossible, i.e., walks on water to get to us! No wonder everyone in the boat is astounded!  Christ comes to us so often that this has become commonplace to us.  Today we need to have the holy reverential fear the people in the boat had!

Let this profound Gospel story form and shape you and me!  Believe that when we are in great difficulties, Christ comes to help us.  Also, here Peter basically tells Christ that he can only rely on Christ; let us pray for this deep Faith too and thus respond to this beautiful invitation of today’s Gospel! There is nothing we can do at this point better than “glorify the Lord” (“glorify Christ”) as the first Communion Antiphon exerts us.  By the way, the words “finest wheat” here refer to Holy Communion.  Finally, for this week use the Prayer After Communion as a daily or ongoing prayer.

In conclusion, let me finish with this exhortation.  “In various religious sects, God is pictured as a terrifying deity who brings fear to the hearts of men and women and violently avenges every insult to God’s integrity.  His/Her principal weapons are storms and earthquakes.  The God of Elijah, the God of Jesus, is wholly different.  This God sides with the poor and the weak, and disappoints the hopes of those who would like to grow in power through contact with God.  God cannot be used by men and women.” (Saint Joseph Liturgical Bible).

A final word for today!  We live in a pandemic that is thoroughly changing the way we live.  In this situation we face new situations (including moral ones).  If we believe deeply all the preceding scriptural interpretations (to which this Sunday’s Liturgy calls us), we need to follow the important new moral projects that life throws our way.  Two such areas now are the use of face masks and the keeping of two metres distance between us:  these guidelines are meant to help all of us not to spread the corona virus but to keep it contained.

Regarding the mask, we all can and should wear it when we are not alone.  As I compose and write this material, newscasts are telling the world that evidence and research has been revealed just today that clearly show facemasks are CRUCIAL in the fight with the corona virus and should always be worn when we are not alone.  The mask protects others but it also protects the one who wears it.  And this is why medical professionals tell us now that masks are absolutely needed.  Today’s Liturgy and Its inspired scriptural texts tell us to live out our Faith and this includes what is essential for the well-being of our neighbours and ourselves.  No split personalities please!  Christ’s saving Gospel calls us to love our neighbour (and ourselves); let us follow this command in every way we can and thus include whatever we must do out of love for neighbour and ourselves! Amen!

God bless us all and protect us from the dangers of our Pandemic. Amen!