Augustine on today’s Gospel: Matthew 14:22-36

St. Augustine has something to say about the Gospel reading for today’s Holy Mass. The Apostles are in a small boat being tossed on the waters and they see Jesus walking toward them and are terrified. Let’s listen to the Doctor of Grace (s. 75.4, 6) (my emphasis):

4. Meanwhile the boat carrying the disciples – that is, the Church – is rocking and shaking amid the storms of temptation, while the adverse wind rages on. That is to say, her enemy the Devil strives to keep the wind from claming down. But greater is He who is persistent on our behalf, for amid the vicissitudes of our life He gives us confidence. He comes to us and strengthens us, so we are not jostled in the boat and tossed overboard. For although the boat is thrown into disorder, it is still a boat. It alone carries the disciples and receives Christ. It is in danger indeed on the water, but there would be certain death without it. Therefore stay inside the boat and call upon God! When all good advice fails and the rudder is useless and the spread of the sails presents more of a danger than an advantage, when all human help and strength have been abandoned, the only recourse left for the sailors is to cry out to God. Therefore will He who helps those who are sailing to reach port safely, abandon His Church and prevent her from arriving in peace and tranquility? …

6. What really has to be guarded against is the boat going off course and turning back. This happens when people give up hope of heavenly rewards, and turn under the distorting pull of greed to things that can be seen but pass away. You see, people who are being troubled and tempted by their passions, and yet keep their sights on the realities of the inner life, do not despair like that, but pray for their offenses to be forgiven and remain determined to win through and sail across the rage and fury of the sea. But those who allow themselves to be so deflected from their true selves that they say to themselves, "God doesn’t see, because after al He doesn’t think about me, or care whether I sin," they are turning the bows right around, running before the squall, and being driven back where they came from. There are, after all, a great many ideas that can occur to human hearts; and when Christ is absent the the ship is beset by the dangerous currents of this world and its many storms.

Just before his election to the See of Peter, His Holiness had been chosen by the late Pope John Paul to lead the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. For his meditation for the Ninth Station, His Holiness wrote:

 

Lord, your Church often seems like a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side. In your field we see more weeds than wheat. The soiled garments and face of your Church throw us into confusion. Yet it is we ourselves who have soiled them! It is we who betray you time and time again, after all our lofty words and grand gestures. Have mercy on your Church; within her too, Adam continues to fall. When we fall, we drag you down to earth, and Satan laughs, for he hopes that you will not be able to rise from that fall; he hopes that being dragged down in the fall of your Church, you will remain prostrate and overpowered. But you will rise again. You stood up, you arose and you can also raise us up. Save and sanctify your Church. Save and sanctify us all.

Our true weapon and support in these turbulent times is the Sacrament of Penance. Making a good confession of all our mortal sins in number and kind is of supreme importance for our spiritual lives.

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3 Responses to Augustine on today’s Gospel: Matthew 14:22-36

  1. Catholic Lady says:

    “Lord, your Church often seems like a boat about to sink, a boat taking in water on every side. In your field we see more weeds than wheat. The soiled garments and face of your Church throw us into confusion. Yet it is we ourselves who have soiled them! It is we who betray you time and time again, after all our lofty words and grand gestures. Have mercy on your Church; within her too, Adam continues to fall. When we fall, we drag you down to earth, and Satan laughs, for he hopes that you will not be able to rise from that fall; he hopes that being dragged down in the fall of your Church, you will remain prostrate and overpowered. But you will rise again. You stood up, you arose and you can also raise us up. Save and sanctify your Church. Save and sanctify us all.

    I am confused about who you are quoting here? John Paul II or Benedict XVI. “

  2. Cathy_of_Alex says:

    Good meditation and lesson today, Father.

    As a Minnesotan I can always relate
    to the terror of being in a small boat in a sudden storm. Sometimes, I feel like our
    Archdiocese is in that boat on Lake Minnetonka! We just need to
    remember to keep our eyes on Jesus so we won’t sink.

    I need to keep my eye
    on Jesus so I won’t sink and quit being so judgemental. The Sacrament of
    Confession is one of the greatest gifts that Jesus left for us.
    I use it often-that was not always the case, but it is now. I’m sad for all those years I deprived myself of it in the name of “enlightenment”

  3. Jon, T.O.P. says:

    Father,

    NOTHING about St. Dominic?

    Tsk, veritas, tsk.