Joy of the Gospel

Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.

Sunday of Week 19 of Ordinary Time Year A
13 August 2023
By Fr Simon Mavhiya

Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.
1 Kings 19:9, 11-13; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:22-33
When St John Paul ii began his pontificate on October 22, 1978, he exhorted the people with these words, “Be not afraid!” It was a clarion call to invite people to overcome the fear that threatened them then. As we live today, we are going through the roaring and foaming waters of our time. After the dreadful Covid 19 pandemic, more life-threatening situations continue to engulf us. The war in Ukraine is still raging, armed conflicts in Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the military coups in Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea, Chad, and Sudan continue to raise a strong sense of human insecurity. Other causes of fear are drug abuse among the youth, gender based violence in some communities, marriage breakdowns, youth unemployment and famine. In all these situations, Jesus is coming to us walking on these turbulent waters and is emphatically saying to us: Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.
In today’s Gospel after the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus instructed the disciples to go the other side of the sea while he remained behind to dismiss the crowd and after which he had some time to pray on the hill. Meanwhile the disciples were in the boat and were being threatened and frightened by the raging waters. During the fourth watch of the night, Jesus came to them walking on the water. When they saw Jesus coming walking on water, they thought it was a ghost. Jesus was quick to calm them: Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid. In response Peter asked the Lord to allow him to go to him walking on the water and the Lord said to him: Come. Peter made a few steps on the water but when he felt the power of the strong wind he was afraid and began to sink and he cried out, “Lord save me!” Jesus took him by the hand and saved him. As they got into the boat the wind died down.
We notice that while the disciples were afraid and were on the verge of capsizing, Jesus had some time to pray and came walking on the same life threatening and raging waters. Jesus is Lord of the sea. He has power over all powers of destruction that threaten us. Everything is under his feet. There are forces of destruction which threaten us and do not want us to believe in Jesus who has power and authority to walk on the turbulent waters. These forces want us to see Jesus as a ghost and a mirage. These forces intimidate us and bully us like the waters of the Red Sea. Can we hear the voice of Jesus: It is I? This is the voice that drives way fear, the fear of a ghost and the fear of the raging waters. It is the voice that calms everything.
Amidst all the life-threatening situations, when the wind is blowing strongly, we may ask ourselves: Do we have faith in Jesus Christ? Do we put our trust in him? If we do not have faith, we will drown. We need that faith which is a complete self-abandonment into the hands of Christ. We are to trust Christ and have unreserved hope in him. With great faith and trust in Jesus Christ let us walk on the same turbulent waters towards him who is the Lord of the universe and our Saviour.
In Africa, countries like Zimbabwe, Gabon, Liberia, Libya and the Democratic Republic of Congo are still going to have elections this year. We pray for peace and tranquility in these countries. When trouble comes, we invite our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace to come to us walking on the raging waters that disturb peace and harmony. We ask him to give us the grace to live by faith and hope so that we may have the power of the Spirit to face the adversities and dangers of this world. When we are overwhelmed we continue to cry to him and say: “Lord save us!”
May our Mother Mary, Queen of Peace pray for us. Amen.