11 August 2012
Extracted from the prophet Jeremiah, Chapter 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22
The word addressed to Jeremiah by the Lord: the Lord, the God of Israel says this: Write all the words I have spoken to you in a book.
Yes, the Lord says this:
Your wound is incurable, your injury past healing.
There is no one to care for your sore, no medicine to make you well again.
All your lovers have forgotten you, they look for you no more.
Yes, I have struck you as an enemy strikes, with harsh punishment
so great is your guilt, so many your sins.
Why bother to complain about your wound?
Your pain is incurable.
So great is your guilt, so many your sins, that I have done all this to you.
The Lord says this:
Now I will restore the tents of Jacob, and take pity on his dwellings:
the city shall be rebuilt on its ruins, the citadel restored on its site.
From them will come thanksgiving and shouts of joy.
I will make them increase, and not diminish them, make them honoured, and not disdained.
Their sons shall be as once they were, their community fixed firm in my presence,
and I will punish all their oppressors.’
Their prince will be one of their own, their ruler come from their own people.
I will let him come freely into my presence and he can come close to me;
who else, indeed, would risk his life
by coming close to me? – it is the Lord who speaks.
And you shall be my people and I will be your God.
A wise and elderly Priest gave a homily after the aforesaid was read recently in Mass, we have summarized to share with you:
The chosen race of God, descendants of Abraham were struck down by God with all the crimes that they had committed – “I will strike you as an enemy strikes, with harsh punishment so great is your guilt, so many your sins.” (Jeremiah 30:14). However, Yahweh God promised immediate restoration if they repent. It is the same with us, if we sincerely repent of our wrong doing, God would immediately restore us back to our original princely status, to be loved again by Him as His children & to be brothers and sisters of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This wise Priest also appealed to us to help Jesus in the work of salvation in the conversion of sinners. He told us: “if any of us is successful in converting one sinner in his life time, he would be guaranteed Heaven immediately after his death”. He also told us to pray for them and to do penance.
You asked, ‘Where is this basis of “guaranteed Heaven upon converting a sinner”?’
Here’s the Answer from Saint James (see James 5:19-20):
My brothers, if one of you strays away from the truth and another brings him back to it, he may be sure that anyone who can bring back a sinner from the wrong way that he has taken will be saving a soul from death and covering up a multitude of sins.
As compared with what Saint Peter said:
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8
This made us recalled the words of Jesus Christ:
“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” – Luke 15:7
“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” – Luke 15:10
But let all of us who call ourselves “Christians” to be “very alert”, as the Sermon- the Hebrews, Chapter 6:
4 As for those people who were once brought into the light, and tasted the gift from heaven, and received a share of the Holy Spirit,
5 and tasted the goodness of God's message and the powers of the world to come
6 and yet in spite of this have fallen away - it is impossible for them to be brought to the freshness of repentance a second time, since they are crucifying the Son of God again for themselves, and are holding him up to contempt.
Peter walking on water -Extracted from the holy Gospel according to Matthew,
When Jesus received the news of John the Baptist’s death, he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he would send the crowds away.
After sending the crowds away he went up into the hills by himself to pray.
When evening came, he was there alone, while the boat, by now far out on the lake, was battling with a heavy sea, for there was a head-wind.
In the fourth watch of the night he went towards them, walking on the lake, and when the disciples saw him walking on the lake they were terrified.
‘It is a ghost’ they said, and cried out in fear.
But at once Jesus called out to them, saying, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’
It was Peter who answered. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water.’
‘Come’ said Jesus.
Then Peter got out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus across the water, but as soon as he felt the force of the wind, he took fright and began to sink.
‘Lord! Save me!’ he cried. Jesus put out his hand at once and held him.
‘Man of little faith,’ he said ‘why did you doubt?’
And as they got into the boat the wind dropped. The men in the boat bowed down before him and said, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’
Having made the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret.
When the local people recognised him they spread the news through the whole neighbourhood and took all that were sick to him, begging him just to let them touch the fringe of his cloak.
And all those who touched it were completely cured.
Interpretation given by Pope Benedict XVI on 7 August 2011, during the Angelus, @ the Courtyard of the Papal Summer Residence, Castel Gandolfo:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In this Sunday’s Gospel we find Jesus who, after withdrawing to the mountain, prays throughout the night. The Lord, having distanced himself from the people and the disciples, manifests his communion with the Father and the need to pray in solitude, far from the commotion of the world.
This distancing, however, must not be seen as a lack of interest in individuals or trust in the Apostles. On the contrary, Matthew recounts, Jesus made the disciples get into the boat, “and go before him to the other side” (Mt 14:22), where he would see them again. In the meantime the boat “was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them” (v. 24). And so in the fourth watch of the night [Jesus] came to them, walking on the sea” (v. 25); the disciples were terrified, mistaking him for a ghost and “cried out for fear” (v. 26). They did not recognize him, they did not realize that it was the Lord.
Nonetheless Jesus reassured them: “Take heart, it is I; have no fear” (v. 27). This is an episode from which the Fathers of the Church drew a great wealth of meaning. The sea symbolizes this life and the instability of the visible world; the storm points to every kind of trial or difficulty that oppresses human beings. The boat, instead, represents the Church, built by Christ and steered by the Apostles.
Jesus wanted to teach the disciples to bear life’s adversities courageously, trusting in God, in the One who revealed himself to the Prophet Elijah on Mount Horeb “in a still small voice” [the whispering of a gentle breeze] (1 Kings 19:12).
The passage then continues with the action of the Apostle Peter, who, moved by an impulse of love for the Teacher, asks him to bid him to come to him, walking on the water. “But when he saw the wind [was strong], [Peter] was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” (Mt 14:30).
St Augustine, imagining that he was addressing the Apostle, commented: the Lord “leaned down and took you by the hand. With your strength alone you cannot rise. Hold tight to the hand of the One who reaches down to you” (En. in Ps. 95, 7: PL 36, 1233), and he did not say this to Peter alone but also to us.
Peter walks on the water, not by his own effort but rather through divine grace in which he believes. And when he was smitten by doubt, when he no longer fixed his gaze on Jesus but was frightened by the gale, when he failed to put full trust in the Teacher’s words, it means that he was interiorly distancing himself from the Teacher and so risked sinking in the sea of life.
So it is also for us: if we look only at ourselves we become dependent on the winds and can no longer pass through storms on the waters of life. The great thinker Romano Guardini wrote that the Lord “is always close, being at the root of our being. Yet we must experience our relationship with God between the poles of distance and closeness. By closeness we are strengthened, by distance we are put to the test” (Accettare se stessi, Brescia 1992, 71).
Dear friends, the experience of the Prophet Elijah who heard God passing and the troubled faith of the Apostle Peter enable us to understand that even before we seek the Lord or invoke him, it is he himself who comes to meet us, who lowers Heaven to stretch out his hand to us and raise us to his heights; all he expects of us is that we trust totally in him, that we really take hold of his hand.
Let us call on the Virgin Mary, model of total entrustment to God, so that amidst the plethora of anxieties, problems and difficulties which churn up the sea of our life, may our hearts resonate with the reassuring words of Jesus who also says to us “Take heart, it is I; have no fear!”; and may our faith in him grow.
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish Pope Benedict XVI’s words so that they could be accessed by more people all over the world. May the Holy Name of God be praised!
11 August 2012