I AM WITH YOU—DO NOT BE AFRAID
The true prophet is he who says what God inspires him to say, however challenging or unpleasant his word. The false prophet is he who says what people want to hear. He compromises with the truth and with himself. Some talk to an oracle to please themselves, to hear their own voice. And those who do not live as they preach also belong somehow among the false prophets.
The symbolism of the Gospel: narrative is very strong. Water is evil, which swallows up. Jesus, the Lord, is mightier. He invites the disciple and the whole Church to take the risk of faith of following him. Faith is insecure by itself; we have to pass through the storms of life between faith and fear. But the Lord is there, unseen: It is I, I am with you. Do not be afraid.
Lord our God,
there is a constant tension in us
between fear and faith
as we are battling with the winds and the waves
that threaten our faithfulness to the Gospel.
Make us accept Lord,
that faith is never secure
or acquired once and for all.
Make it grow in us day after day,
that we may not be faint-hearted
but resolutely follow your Son,
Jesus Christ, our Lord.
1 Reading: Jeremiah 28:1-17
In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, in the fifth month of the fourth year, the prophet Hananiah, son of Azzur, from Gibeon, said to me in the house of the LORD in the presence of the priests and all the people: “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years I will restore to this place all the vessels of the temple of the LORD which Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, took away from this place to Babylon. And I will bring back to this place Jeconiah, son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and all the exiles of Judah who went to Babylon,’ says the LORD, ‘for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.’” The prophet Jeremiah answered the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people assembled in the house of the LORD, and said: Amen! Thus may the LORD do! May he fulfill the things you have prophesied by bringing the vessels of the house of the LORD and all the exiles back from Babylon to this place! But now, listen to what I am about to state in your hearing and the hearing of all the people. From of old, the prophets who were before you and me prophesied war, woe, and pestilence against many lands and mighty kingdoms. But the prophet who prophesies peace is recognized as truly sent by the LORD only when his prophetic prediction is fulfilled. Thereupon the prophet Hananiah took the yoke from the neck of the prophet Jeremiah and broke it, and said in the presence of all the people: “Thus says the LORD: ‘Even so, within two years I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, from off the neck of all the nations.’” At that, the prophet Jeremiah went away. Sometime after the prophet Hananiah had broken the yoke from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: Go tell Hananiah this: Thus says the LORD: By breaking a wooden yoke, you forge an iron yoke! For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: A yoke of iron I will place on the necks of all these nations serving Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and they shall serve him; even the beasts of the field I give him. To the prophet Hananiah the prophet Jeremiah said: Hear this, Hananiah! The LORD has not sent you, and you have raised false confidence in this people. For this, says the LORD, I will dispatch you from the face of the earth; this very year you shall die, because you have preached rebellion against the LORD. That same year, in the seventh month, Hananiah the prophet died.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 119:29, 43, 79, 80, 95, 102
R/. (68b) Lord, teach me your statutes.
Remove from me the way of falsehood,
and favour me with your law. R/.
Take not the word of truth from my mouth,
for in your ordinances is my hope. R/.
Let those turn to me who fear you
and acknowledge your decrees. R/.
Let my heart be perfect in your statutes,
that I be not put to shame. R/.
Sinners wait to destroy me,
but I pay heed to your decrees. R/.
From your ordinances I turn not away,
for you have instructed me. R/.
Alleluia John 1:49B
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Rabbi, you are the Son of God;
you are the King of Israel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: Matthew 14:22-36
Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side of the sea, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.” After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret. When the men of that place recognized him, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought to him all those who were sick and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak, and as many as touched it were healed.
Hananiah was a prophet who told the people what they wanted to hear. A quick end to exile, an imminent return to their homeland, restoration of the temple property. Jeremiah upbraids him and predicts his death for misleading the people. The length of time for the Hebrews to bear the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, remains undetermined. To minister in the name of the Lord remains a very sacred call.
In Matthew’s account of the miraculous provision of food, there is an interesting note. After blessing and breaking the bread, Jesus gives it to the disciples to distribute. It is Matthew who shows special deference to the disciples and highlights their ministerial role. Jesus appears to them in Galilee after his resurrection and commissions them to carry his message to the world. In today’s church, new forms of ministry have appeared, with the laity accorded new roles. These come to the fore in every Sunday Mass we attend. This is as it should be but carries with it its own responsibilities. A coherent Christian life, a reverence for the sacred, and a deep sense of faith. Ministers are commissioned by Christ in what must always be seen as a sacred trust. And we must do the ministeries without fear, for he is always with us and tells us today, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
– For the Church, when it has to pass through difficult moments of persecution, ridicule or inner conflict, that it may keep trusting in the Lord, we pray:
– For Christians beset by doubts or facing hard decisions of conscience, that they may see the hand that Jesus extends to them, we pray:
– For people, who have to do dangerous work, that the Lord may protect them we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
You wish to reassure us,
Lord our God,
how much you are with us
through him who is our food and drink,
your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through him, give us the power
to walk the stormy road of faith
and to take the risks of love,
that we may overcome our fears
and make his reassuring word
the foundation of our life and work
now and till the end of time.
Prayer after Communion
Our all-powerful God,
you invite us through Jesus, your Son,
to leave our timid security
and to come across the water with him
in commitment to you and to our neighbor.
Even though, we do not see his hand
put out to us and holding us,
give us enough faith to be certain
that with him, we shall overcome
and build up your future in our human world,
until he leads us across to you,
our God, for ever and ever.
“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid,” says Jesus. He is with us in our struggles, for he will never desert us. May Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!