Friday, August 8, 2014

Gospel text for Sunday 10 August 2014

Matthew 14:22-33
Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid."
Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God.”
Reflection     I believe it is a good thing that ever eager Peter, while walking on water toward Jesus, noticed the squalling winds and began to sink into the sea. Had Peter forged undaunted through the squall, Jesus’ story would be about magic, a happily ever-after ghost tale. Had Peter not noticed the strong winds and slipped into the drink his would not have been a real life story with God. 
Storms are always kicking up dirt, spitting ice or screaming sirens in our journey with God. The thing is, it is not the storms that will get us. The real danger is that we see ourselves as separate from God then scramble to cling to perishing things. 
Instead of pausing and listening for God, we are distracted by things we think we are losing - our boats, our cars, our health, our loved ones, our life. When we hitch our lives to things that perish, naturally we become afraid. It is rather like building our house in a wash or flood plain, eventualy we will be forced to face the truth. We have made our lives depend on things that cannot last. We have worked so hard to stitch together our strategies for safety and security, affection and esteem, power and control that we have left no time to pause and be present to the Presence of God with us. For many of us it is not until we are caught in the midst of a storm, with nothing left to lose that we finaly open the ears of our heart for God. 
But we don’t have to wait until we are beaten up, at the end of our wits or the end of our life. We can decide to pause and listen for God.  The trappist monk, mystic, poet, social activist and scholar Thomas Merton (who died in 1968) counsels, everything we truely desire we already have. All that is needed is that we pause and allow ourselves to experience what we already have. Merton calls the pause, contemplation. It is being present to what is already Present. It is listening for God (New Seeds of Contemplation, chapter 1).
For those who bristle at the word, ‘contemplation’ is not about sitting still. Contemplation is about paying attention to the present moment exactly as it is because God is already there. It takes practice to focus our attention. That’s why some people practice meditation or centering prayer, play the trumpet, paint, run long distances or walk the dog early in the morning. Anything we do with all of our attention opens the ears of our hearts to hear the voice of the One who speaks in the depths of our own being where our life loses its separate voice.
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