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19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 6-9): Sign of Our King


In the Gospel this Sunday, we hear one of Jesus' miracles. Miracles are signs that show us something of the Kingdom of God. Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out what the sign means. In this miracle account, St. Matthew helps us. He repeats one word three times. When something repeats in the Bible, we pay attention because repetition is a signpost for us. It points us in the right direction; it focuses our attention. What does St. Matthew want us to see?

Immediately Jesus 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.

Three times in this Gospel passage, St. Matthew uses the word "immediately." This is his signpost. What does it focus our attention on?

Jesus takes time alone to go up the mountain. Jesus prays.

The signpost focuses our attention on what Jesus does, does it not?

When evening came, Jesus was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them.

It should not take all night for the disciples to cross the sea of Galilee. It is not that big of a lake. But the forces of nature appear to be too strong for them.

And early in the morning Jesus came walking toward them on the sea.



And early in the morning Jesus came walking toward them on the sea.

Jesus walks on water?? How can this be?

Who can do this?

Is this the sign of the Kingdom of God?

But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear.

If this is the sign of the Kingdom of God, it does not seem to be a good sign. It terrifies the disciples. Why are they so scared? At this moment, early in the morning, Jesus does something that nature does not allow. No one can walk on water because they sink. Jesus breaks the law of nature. Can they trust a law-breaker? Who is he??

But does Jesus break the law of nature? Or is he above the law of nature?

Who makes the laws of nature?

Who makes the laws of Creation?

Who makes the laws in the Kingdom of God?

Why, the King, of course.

And Creation serves the King.

In the disciples' fear, that word "immediately" appears.

But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

When the disciples are terrified, when they think Jesus is a ghost, does Jesus wait?


Immediately, he acts. Immediately, he says, "Do not be afraid."

The signpost points to Jesus again. What does it show us?

He does not want them to fear. Why?

Because he is not a ghost.

Jesus makes that very clear.

He is with them.

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!” 

We might notice two things here.

  1. Peter walks on water. He does! With his eyes on the King, he rises above the laws of nature.

  2. Peter begins to sink when he notices the wind. He begins to sink when he takes his eyes off the King.

We might focus on this. We might. But St. Matthew throws up his signpost to focus our attention back on Jesus.

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him

When Peter is frightened, what does Jesus do?

Immediately, he saves him. Again, he does not wait.

The signpost points us again to Jesus. What does it show us?

Jesus saves.

In fact, the name "Jesus" means, "God saves", or "The Lord is salvation."

Jesus does what his name says. He cannot help but save. This is who he is.

All three immediately signposts point to Jesus.

Perhaps St. Matthew wants us to see that this miracle is not a sign of the Kingdom of God.

Perhaps this miracle is a sign of the King.

We know that:

  • Jesus saves. Immediately he stretches out a hand to save, when Peter begins to sink. The King cannot help but save.

  • Jesus comes. Immediately he acts, when the disciples fear. The King is not a ghost.

  • Jesus prays. Immediately he goes up the mountain, when... When what?

The Gospel today begins with an immediately signpost but we did not hear immediately after what. What happens just before this story?

Just before this Gospel account, Jesus takes bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it to five thousand hungry people. Then immediately after this supper, Jesus goes up the mountain to pray.

Jesus takes bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it...

Does this not sound familiar?

At the Last Supper, Jesus takes bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it to the disciples. Could the signpost be pointing us to this? Are these two events linked?

  • Immediately after the Last Supper, Jesus goes up the Mount of Olives to pray.

  • The soldiers take him away from the disciples. He dies on the cross, and early in the morning of the third day God raises him to new life. He seems to break the law of nature.

  • Filled with Risen life, he can never die again. In fact, he rises above the laws of nature. Creation serves the King.

  • When the disciples see him after he rises from the dead, they fear that he is a ghost. But Jesus comes and tells them, Do not be afraid. The King is not a ghost. He is with them.

  • And Jesus cannot keep his Risen Life all to himself. He gives his Risen life—the life that is so much stronger than death—to each of us in our baptism. We call this salvation. The King cannot help but save. He is who his name says he is.

The sign of the walking on the water shows us our King.

And so, with the disciples immediately we can exclaim each time we pray,

“Truly you are the Son of God!”
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