Holy Cross Catholic Church

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19th Sunday in Ordinary Time - August 13, 2023

Dear friends,

Last weekend we celebrated the Feast of Transfiguration of the Lord, a manifestation of the divine nature of Jesus and the recommendation from the Father to listen to Him as the Only Begotten Son with whom He is pleased. While for the Lord it was a transfiguration, the event calls us not to transfiguration but to radical transformation, metanoia; because the Word of God we listen to should have effects on us.  

Today, we are given the miracle of Jesus walking on the water. The particularity of this miracle is that it moves from the ordinary understanding and context of other miracles Jesus operated. Usually when Jesus worked a miracle, he was responding to someone’s needs: hunger, sickness, evil spirit possession, storms on the sea, and so on. But Jesus walking on the water seems to have a completely different purpose: like the transfiguration, today’s miracle is simply another manifestation of Jesus’ divine nature. We remember the following words, “It is I.” They take us back to the Old Testament where God defines himself as “I am.” For the Jews this was clear because no one else could pronounce the name except the High Priest. So, when the Lord says, “It is I,” He is exactly telling his disciple that they are with God. Therefore, there is no need to be afraid. 

So, what does all this tell us? We go back to last weekend’s readings. The gospel for the Eighteenth Sunday was the miraculous feeding of over five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish. The disciples were struggling in their ministry, unable to find and give solution to the predicament. Jesus is the solution to their struggles and predicament. In that story of the feeding of over five thousands, we were given an anticipation of the Eucharist as it tells us that Jesus took bead, blessed it, broke it and gave it. These are the very same words used in the prayer of the consecration of the Eucharist. So Jesus takes us back to the source, the summit and the fount of our Christian life. That’s where he manifests his divinity and empties himself for our sake, giving himself to us as true food for our discipleship journey. 

Likewise, in the miracle of Jesus walking on the water, we face the reality of the disciples struggling in the middle of the night, with the wind against them, and feeling as if they were making no progress. Suddenly Jesus assures them of his presence, reminding them of the words he told them at the Last Supper: “I will not leave you orphans”. Jesus brings assurance and courage. He calms their fears as he announces his presence. Today, as we gather here to celebrate the Eucharist, he assures us of his presence as he says, “this is my body,” “this is my blood.” The assurance of this presence tells us that we can do marvelous things. The proof is that Peter is able to walk on the water when the Lord calls him. 

You and I struggle to understand the requirements of intentional discipleship and we dive in fear. The Lord tells us today that his presence is enough to move us forwards. We need only to trust in him and let him hold us in his hands on this journey of discipleship. He says, you have me as I feed you with my body and quench your thirst with my blood. Take me with you and I will make your mission successful. 

And let us continue to pray for one another and for our parish family. 

Fr. Emery


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