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 exciting 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 and a unique character in the entire miraculous drama. The story is always a fantastic, uplifting read.
While many reflections focus on Peter's actual miracle of walking on 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 water. Not surprising. God can walk on water.
Second, Jesus empowers Peter to do the same. Like Peter, God can enable us to walk on the waters threatening to drown our loved ones and us.
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.
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 would like today's reflection to focus on the timing of the miracle. I believe there is something about the "fourth watch," which reveals God's power to save, rescue, and 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 season 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 (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 the Blessed Lord approached the apostles terrified by the storms' clashing during the fourth watch of the night? Not likely. With the Lord Jesus, coincidence has no place. The Lord 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.
Do you know those moments of your life that are the darkest, those periods when you seem to be completely drowning? Those are the miracle moments. Jesus reassures, "It is I, do not be afraid."
It also speaks to the situation of the Church today. You may feel the Church is in a mess. The storms are many, and doubts are paramount. The waves of the world and evil forces seem to capsize the boat of our salvation—the Church. The Lord Jesus announces, "Be not afraid," "I am here." "This is my boat."
Always remember, when the night is darkest, the dawn is near.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Tuesday, Week 18, Ordinary Time: Jeremiah 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22; Matthew 14:22-36]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.