Grace to you!
Miracles thrill. They edify.
I don’t mean the sensations of mystery movies or the legendary tales of moonlight novels. I mean, when the impossible becomes possible by God’s command or sheer providence.
Every day, God’s providence, miracles surprise us. They lift hearts while revealing God’s beauty and glory. I believe in miracles, do you?
The Gospel of Matthew 14:22-36 records one of the most interesting miracles in the bible. It is the story of the calming of the storm by Jesus. Peter, the leader of the apostles of Jesus, was a chief beneficiary, as well as a unique character in the entire miraculous drama. The story is always a wonderful, uplifting read.
While many reflections focus on the actual miracle of Peter walking on the water and the significance of Peter’s actions in the journey of faith, I want to share something a little different. Many call the miracle – the calming of the storms. There is, however, another way to look at the story; it is five-in-one nature miracles.
First, Jesus walks on the water. Not surprising. God can walk on the water.
Second, Jesus empowers Peter to do the same. Like Peter, God can enable us to walk on the waters threatening to drown us and our loved ones.
Third, Jesus rescues the doubting, sinking Peter. There is hope for us who sometimes doubt. You may be sinking now. Don’t give up. Cry to the Lord “I am sinking” and he will lift you up.
Fourth, Jesus calms the storm by a command. It can’t get any better. And fifth, the boat docks to safety, thanks to Jesus. In the end, with God on our side, safety is guaranteed.
All these miracles happened during the fourth watch of the night. I will like today’s reflection to focus on the timing of the miracle. I believe there is something about the “fourth watch” which is revealing of God’s power to save, to rescue and to reassure us.
You probably know about the four watches of the night for the Jews. Those were used during the time Israel was under the rule of the Roman Empire. Depending on the seasons of the year (whether it was a longer or shorter night period), on the average, the first watch was from sunset in the evening (around 6:00 p.m.) to 9:00 p.m. The second watch was from 9:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight; the third watch was from around 12:00 midnight to 3:00 a.m., and the fourth watch, which ushers the dawn, also called sunrise, began from 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.
Between the third and the fourth watches of the night (that is, somewhere between 12:00 midnight to 6:00 a.m.) is the darkest period of the night. The saying, “When the night is darkest, dawn is near,” captures this reality.
Was it coincidental that Jesus approached the apostles terrified by the clashing of the storms during the fourth watch of the night? Not likely. With Jesus, coincidence has no place. Jesus approaches us (often using people or events we least expected) at the right time, when we need him most. Just like the apostles, it could be during the fourth watch of the night.
You know those moments of your life that are the darkest; those periods you seem to be completely drowning? Those are the miracle moments. Jesus reassures, “It is I, do not be afraid.”
This, too, speaks to the situation of the Church today. You feel the Church is in a mess, the storms are much and doubts are paramount. The waves of the world and the forces of evil seem to capsize the boat of our salvation – the Church.
Jesus announces, “Be not afraid,” “I am here.” “This is my boat.”
Always remember, “the darkest hour is just before the dawn.”
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Tuesday, August 2, 2016, Ordinary Time: Jeremiah 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22; Matthew 14:22-36]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.