The Collect for the 19th Sunday of Year reads as follows:
Almighty ever-living God,
Whom, taught by the Holy Spirit, we dare to call Our Father,
Bring, we pray, to perfection in our hearts
the spirit of adoption as Your sons and daughters,
That we may merit into the inheritance which You have promised.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.
In making this prayer tangible for during the week the following reflection questions emerged:
1. What is my relationship with God Our Father?
2. What is my relationship with Holy Spirit?
3. How do I acknowledge in my daily life that I am a son/daughter of God?
4. How am I preparing to receive my inheritance in Heaven?
5. If my focus has been on myself rather than God, what decision will I make and what steps will I put into place to change that focus this coming week?
6. Examine my spiritual life- take a stock take in my prayer life, my attitude towards God i.e. Is God no 1 in my life, my top priority or is He not even on my list in my life, my reception of the Sacraments, knowledge of my faith and my commitment to share my faith with others. What do you discover and what needs to change? Develop an action plan.
Today’s Gospel takes place on the sea of Galilee. It is important to take into consideration that the disciples were fishermen so were well acquainted with the water. The other point to remember about the sea of Galilee is that it can be calm but it can become stormy quickly. However, Jesus did not send the disciples out on a stormy sea. It was calm at the beginning of the story.
The first part of the Gospel shows us that Jesus, as a human being felt the need to pray, to be alone and be with His Father to pray. When we hear this part of the Gospel, what is our reaction? Do we sit up and take notice, even though we are standing? Does Jesus ask us what is our relationship with Him, with Our Father and how we communicate with Him in prayer? Is prayer a daily occurrence in our lives or something we do only when we are afraid or in need? It also shows us the importance of being alone with God. Community prayer through the Sacraments is necessary and important but we need to develop our own relationship with God through prayer, through being faithful to a time, a place to be alone with Him.
The second part of the story highlights our need to trust. Peter believed in Jesus and when he trusted Jesus and looked straight at Him, whilst he walked on water, he did not sink. When he looked down and took his focus from Jesus, he lost faith, lost his trust and panicked. So what happens when we trust Jesus and keep our focus on Him? Do we do more through His grace than we expect is possible? What happens when the focus is removed from Jesus and we focus on ourselves? What happens when we no longer trust Jesus and try to live our lvies in our own strength?
In this time of pandemic, we may wish to reflect on our world. Many people have turned their back on Jesus or worse still, thumbed their noses at Him, living lives with every known sin possible. As Catholics, we may not have thumbed our noses at Jesus blatantly, but we may have become lukewarm, tepid or taken Jesus for granted.
Now is the time to review our lives and put Jesus as no 1. If He is not no 1, turn to Him through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Do not worry how many years it might have been, even if it is since the ice age since you last received the Sacrament. Make an appointment to talk to a good holy priest and he will help you turn back to Jesus.
Take a stocktake of our spiritual lives. Consider our prayer lives. Turn to Mary our spiritual mother and ask her intercession. If you have not prayed the rosary in years, find a pair of rosary Beads and make a start. If you find 5 decades too much at first, start with reciting one decade well prayed. Then be faithful to that one decade and ask Mary to help you in your spiritual life.
On a personal note, I have to say that as a regular cradle catholic, most people would think my spiritual life was fine. However, it was not. When I took a stock take during the first lock down, I realised where the gaps were my spiritual life. I realised that Jesus had slipped from first priority and I was no longer on fire for the Lord.
I know many people have suffered considerably through this pandemic in many ways. I have as well, but I have to say it has been a time of true blessing for me spiritually. I took the stocktake and decided to take action. Attending Mass online has been a true blessing for me because although I have not been able to receive Jesus sacramentally, I have been able to receive Him spiritually and this time of pandemic and not being able to receive Jesus has given me a fresh hunger for Jesus. It has also brought me closer to understanding and appreciating the Mass more. My attitude is one of attending Mass online not watching Mass online. Attending Mass means truly active and present whereas watching can become a passive activity and not really a praying moment. There have also been many other wonderful changes too. I could share with you all these changes.
However, if we consider today’s Gospel, it invites us to trust Jesus, to let us know that we can do impossible things if we keep our focus on Him and when we fail and take our eyes from Him, we can call out to Him who is always there to take our hand and help us up.
Who will I choose this coming week as my no 1 priority?
Will I turn to Jesus and ask Him to come into all areas of my life?
Will I trust Jesus this coming week?