TUESDAY OF THE EIGHTEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Jeremiah 30: 1-2, 12-15, 18-22
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you.
For thus says the Lord:
Your hurt is incurable,
your wound is grievous.
There is no one to uphold your cause,
no medicine for your wound,
no healing for you.
All your lovers have forgotten you;
they care nothing for you;
for I have dealt you the blow of an enemy,
the punishment of a merciless foe,
because your guilt is great,
because your sins are so numerous.
Why do you cry out over your hurt?
Your pain is incurable.
Because your guilt is great,
because your sins are so numerous,
I have done these things to you.
Thus says the Lord:
I am going to restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob,
and have compassion on his dwellings;
the city shall be rebuilt upon its mound,
and the citadel set on its rightful site.
Out of them shall come thanksgiving,
and the sound of merrymakers.
I will make them many, and they shall not be few;
I will make them honored, and they shall not be disdained.
Their children shall be as of old,
their congregation shall be established before me;
and I will punish all who oppress them.
Their prince shall be one of their own,
their ruler shall come from their midst;
I will bring him near, and he shall approach me,
for who would otherwise dare to approach me?
says the Lord.
And you shall be my people,
and I will be your God.
Psalm 102: 16-21, 29, 22-23
The nations will fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth your glory. For the Lord will build up Zion; he will appear in his glory. He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and will not despise their prayer.
Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord:
that he looked down from his holy height,
from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to set free those who were doomed to die;
The children of your servants shall live secure;
their offspring shall be established in your presence.
so that the name of the Lord may be declared in Zion,
and his praise in Jerusalem,
when peoples gather together,
and kingdoms, to worship the Lord.
Matthew 14: 22-36
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. After the people of that place recognized him, they sent word throughout the region and brought all who were sick to him, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
Our readings today shed light on our brokenness as human beings, but also show the Lord’s heart, which desires to meet us in our brokenness and lead us to restoration.
Jeremiah’s prophesy starts out dismal, as the Lord speaks to the Israelites in their season of exile in Babylon. He does not mince words, describing their situation as hopeless, and brought about by the people’s guilt and broken relationship with God. This is appropriate, as we have no real healing or hope without God. But by the end of the passage, the Lord promises restoration, both of the people’s homeland but, more importantly, of their relationship with Him.
Like the Israelites, when we experience bondage or other wounds in our lives, while there are often outside circumstances that contribute to our suffering, our greatest brokenness lies in a broken relationship with the Lord. Any restoration we might hope or pray for will always begin with reconciling ourselves to God.
Our brokenness can look like sin, neglect or outright rejection of the Lord, but it can also manifest more subtly in doubt, as we see in the Gospel. As long as Peter was looking at Jesus, he could walk on water, as Jesus had called him to. The storm, and even gravity, did not get in the way, but his doubt did. We do not know exactly why Peter decided to fear the wind more than he trusted Jesus, or why the winds of the storm were more real to him than the reality of his footsteps on the water, but we have all certainly had comparable moments in our lives, when anxiety seems to impede our trust in Jesus.
Our doubts reveal cracks in our relationship with the Lord. These doubts can be rooted in any number of things – past wounds and traumas, a need to feel in control, over-reliance on our own reasoning, among other reasons. It is impossible to get rid of all feelings of doubt or anxiety, but the Scriptures today call us to walk toward the Lord in spite of them. They assure us that a little faith can go a long way; we see this with Peter walking on the water, and with the people who knew that they just needed to touch the fringe of Jesus’ clothes to be healed. God is merciful and understands our limitations, but He does call us to make a choice to exalt Him over our fears, doubts, and tendencies toward sin.
Take time today to reflect on your relationship with the Lord, to honestly ask yourself in what areas you have closed Him off, are angry at Him, or struggle to trust Him. Examine your conscience and ask if there is a pattern of sin in the way, and if so, avail yourself of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If your doubts are rooted in wounds, bring those to Jesus today. Trust that He can heal anything, and will always call you closer to Him.