Reflection for Sunday – August 13, 2017

Readings: 1 Kings 19:9A, 11-13A; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:2-23
Preacher: Kathi Piehler

I remember coming home from elementary school to find my mom taking a break from her homemaking duties to watch Johnny Carson host the TV game show, Who Do You Trust?

The show had three couples competing for the grand prize of $500.  During the quiz portion of the show Johnny Carson would tell a male contestant the category of the upcoming question and the man would have to decide whether to answer the question himself or “trust” the woman to answer the question correctly.

I was reminded of that TV show when reading today’s Gospel passage from Matthew. Who did the disciples trust when they were in their small fishing boat, being tossed about by the waves—fearing for their very lives, not simply vying for $500?

Likewise, the gospel prompted me to wonder, in whom do we place our trust today? We trust our physician to heal our bodies. We trust our stockbroker to keep us financially secure.  We trust our spouse to keep sacred our marriage vows.

But when we are on the stormy waters of catastrophic illness, job loss, collapse of our marriage, financial ruin or when people simply betray us, who do we trust? To whom do we turn?

Is our first inclination to turn to the Lord?  If I am brutally honest with myself, I’m not sure the Lord is always my first “go to person.”  My pride gets in the way of asking, of seeking the Lord’s help.  My pride tells me I can handle this myself.  I’m a well-educated, capable adult.  I can deal with “it” on my own. How about you?

Do we think of Jesus as a ghost—as the disciples first thought when they saw Jesus walking on the water?  Or as a real person?  A real person with an outstretched hand to save us.

We read in today’s gospel that even Peter had his doubts, his fears. No matter that the Lord reassured him; that the Lord told him to not be afraid—to be courageous.  It was not enough. The Lord’s words were not sufficient for Peter. He needed more.  And often so do we.

Tell me: How far do you and I have to fall? How low do we go financially, physically, or spiritually, before we reach out to the Lord?

The question of the hour is: Do we trust that Jesus, as the gospel tells us, will stretch out His hand and catch us, as He caught Peter?

I have to wonder: were it not for those storms in our lives, would we ever reach out?  Would we even have a reason to cry out, “Lord, save me!”?

My husband and I were out of town last week and joined some friends at their Lutheran Church for Sunday services.  At the end of the service the musicians led the congregation in a song I had never heard before—You Never Let Go.  Everyone sung the song with great enthusiasm and I am not ashamed to say that it brought tears to my eyes.

Here is a portion of that song by Matt and Beth Redman:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I’m caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won’t turn back, I know you are near

Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me

Powerful words.  Words that reflect today’s gospel message for me.

I consider myself a progressive Vatican II Catholic.  But I haven’t tossed out everything that happened in the Church before 1962.

I have some very fond memories of my 12 years of Catholic education.  In particular, I recall the simple yet powerful prayers the Sisters taught us—and one that I want to weave into my prayer life:

“Oh, Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in Thee.”

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