Tuesday, August 4, and Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Memorial of Saint John Vianney, priest

(Number 12:1-13; Matthew 14:22-36)

The protagonist of Georges Bernarnos’ novel Diary of a Country Priest is modelled after St. John Vianney.  At the end of the novel the priest is dying of consumption.  He does not worry, however.  Indeed, he utters the memorable words: “All is grace.”  The man is convinced that he will be all right because he has fixed his sights on Jesus.  He never looks down on what is threatening him like Peter in today’s gospel.

The vignette about Peter is consistent with his character throughout the gospels.  He is quick to talk and to act and likely to blunder.  If he would concentrate on Jesus without worrying about the liquidity of the water, he would be fine.  But distracted by worry, he begins to sink.

There is a lesson here for us.  When we experience storms in life, we can turn to Jesus.  He will see us through the rough weather.  It should be said that we may not survive as we originally hoped, but we will be well.  He will make that happen.

Wednesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Numbers 13:1-2.25-14.1.26a-29a.34-35; Matthew 15:21-28)

The movie “Chariots of Fire” features the men of brave heart who composed the 1920 English Olympic track team.  In one scene their rivals from America demonstrate technical excellence in training.  They do warm-up calisthenics as if they were jet engines tuning up for take-off.  In the end, however, the determined Brits better the finely-tuned Americans.  Such heart seems in short supply among the Israelites as they hear the reports of the inhabitants of the Promised Land in the first reading.

The Israelites fail to see that they have God on their side.  He has saved them from Pharaoh’s mighty army and provided for their needs in the desert.  Still the people cower after hearing of formidable enemies. They should know by now that God is their source of advantage not their physical prowess.

We are aware that sometimes both sides in an armed conflict appeal to the same God for assistance.  He will ultimately bring victory to only one opponent.  We must realize, however, that winning is neither the only thing nor the most important thing.  What overshadows triumph is the combination of fighting justly and trusting that God loves us.