August 13, 2017 — Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
We often speak of how important it is to trust in God, and how that trust is one of the basic tenets of the concept of stewardship. In fact, we might call this trust an absolute cornerstone of good stewardship. All of the readings on this Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time evaluate or explain some aspect of trusting God. Today’s Gospel from St. Matthew is particularly about trust as Jesus exclaims to Peter, “O, you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
St. Therese of Lisieux had incredible trust in the Lord, even though she died from tuberculosis at the age of 24. Known as the “Little Flower,” St. Therese was fond of saying that “Jesus sleeps in my boat,” an indication of how she knew that Jesus was present and always with her and she placed her total confidence and trust in Him.
Our First Reading from the First Book of Kings shows us Elijah, who has chosen to hide himself in a cave because of his fear of what may happen. He basically indicates that he does not fully trust God to be with him and to protect him. God comes to Elijah in a number of ways, but the most subtle and effective is that He comes to Elijah as a “tiny whisper.” Elijah is humbled and “hid his face in his cloak.”
If we continue reading this passage from First Kings we learn that Elijah learns to trust totally in God and rely on His guidance and good graces to lead him (Elijah) and help him. Each of us may have to “wrap our faces” and honestly and humbly admit that we need God’s assistance all the time and in every way. We are able to be good stewards and give to God first because we believe and know that God will take care of us. God has a plan for each of us and it is better than our own plan.
You may recall that St. Paul’s letter to the Romans is in large part a theological treatise. Paul, like Elijah and so many others, placed his trust in the Lord. Paul makes it clear in today’s reading that trusting Jesus is indeed trusting God as, of course, they are one and the same. Paul says in closing “…Christ who is over all, God blessed forever.” It was Paul’s trust in God, in Christ, which gave him the strength to accomplish and do what he did.
In the next Chapter of his letter to the Romans, Paul states “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” That is the whole point for each of us. Where do we place our trust? Sometimes we may misplace it when we place our trust in things like our job or our bank accounts or our own abilities. The outcome of that kind of trust is likely to be “worry.” Like Paul, we need to trust explicitly in God and that is what opens the door to lasting peace of mind and joyful stewardship.
As is most often the case, it is the Gospel that displays the importance of trusting in God. Is there a better example of trusting God than St. Peter’s willingness to leave the boat in the midst of the storm and reach out to Jesus? This is an interesting narrative for a number of reasons. Jesus sends His disciples across the Sea of Galilee at a time of day that was often dangerous. The Sea of Galilee is well known for sudden storms, especially at that time of day. Peter and the others among the group who were fishermen were well aware of that and the first sign of their trust was the willingness to go, even though they knew it was not the best time. They trusted in the Lord.
Most of us are aware of what happened, how Jesus came to their aid in this time of need, how He said, “Take courage, it is I: do not be afraid.” If we are tuned in to the Lord, He says the same thing to us. When He saves them, especially Peter, “Those who were in the boat did Him homage, saying ‘Truly, you are the Son of God’.” Jesus, the Lord, loves us, and we must trust in Him.