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19th Sunday in OT (A)

Master of the Universe MATTHEW 14:22–33

By Jacqui-Theresa Leiba

In today’s gospel, it is perhaps fitting for our meditation, to recognise Jesus as Master of the Universe, who defies every scientific law known to humanity. We recall Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:18, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” We can trust Him at any time to come walking in the strong winds and turbulent waters of our life.

After dismissing the crowds, Jesus sends the disciples ahead in the boat.  He then seeks solitude in prayer. Solitude offers the opportunity to be free of distractions, to listen to the Father’s heart in silence.

The prayer between Jesus and the Father is heart to heart; no words, if any, are necessary. This prayer is a surrendered, wordless, listening prayer of deep intimacy, which would have guided His human life.

We might practise this kind of prayer when visiting the Blessed Sacrament for example, as we attempt to be fully present and without distraction, we rest in the Lord. This state of prayer is reminiscent of St Benedict’s rule. “Listen carefully to the master’s instructions and attend to them with the ear of your heart.”

In the evening, a heavy wind picks up and the boat is tossed about in the lake. Later, between 3 and 6 a.m. “in the fourth watch of the night” (Matt 14:25), Jesus comes walking on the lake and the disciples are fearful. The shadowy darkness of the hour and the fact that He is walking on water create an illusion that He is a ghost.

We often experience fear in life when the strong winds of problems toss us in our small boats. COVID-19, financial strain, poor health, broken relationships may leave us feeling lost and afraid. It is in these circumstances the Lord says, “Courage!  It is I! Do not be afraid!”.

If we are like Peter, we trust and step out in confidence, strengthened by the Lord, only to begin sinking because of waning faith. The Lord is there to help us in our weakness when we cry out. He will command the wind in our storms to drop and it will obey Him.

We can empathise with the disciples as we too are slow to grasp the reality of Christ in our lives. We might say like them, “Truly, you are the Son of God” (Matt 14:33). It is a much easier task to grasp the truth of His presence when with quiet hearts, we long to know Him, love Him and serve Him.

We recognise with deep humility, that we are not masters of anything, but we can indeed be good stewards. Christ is Master of the Universe. He raises others from the dead and death has no power over Him. He heals the blind, changes water into wine, walks on water and commands the storms.  All these say something of His nature as He gives the assurance: “And surely I am with you always even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20).

Can we believe that Christ is amid the crises and we are being held together despite our fears? “For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 16.28).

Do we believe that He hides Himself in plain sight? At the breaking of bread and in a tiny, white wafer? In the poor, in nature and all creation?

His is a Kingdom indeed not of this world and yet in the world. In the Apostles Creed we say, “He will come to judge the living and the dead and his Kingdom will have no end.” These ponderings inspire awe in us and lead us to discover Him anew.

With no words in our hearts and minds and on our lips, we bow in silent awe, surrender, trust, gratitude and adoration.

We then confess with deep conviction; “Truly, You are the Son of God, God Himself and Master of the Universe”.

Examen: Who is Christ for me? When I become afraid, where is He?

Jacqui-Theresa Leiba is a parishioner of St Patrick’s RC Church, Newtown, and a founding member of Prayer Rhythms for Change—a prayer and social action group at St Dominic’s RC Church, Morvant.