A Message from Fr. Jay
I have a grandnephew who will be turning 4 years old in March. When I visited my family in India last May, I was able to converse with him, as little as he is. One day, he took me to the backyard of our house to introduce his favorite rooster, hen, goat and cow. While leading me on his little tour, he tried to hold my hand with his tiny fingers, but since my hand was too big for him, he held one of my fingers. I still feel that gentle, but tight, hold. We have similar moments in our own lives when we hold a newborn baby or the first handholding of your girlfriend/boyfriend or, in my case, the Bishop placing his hands on my head on the day of my ordination… all unforgettable moments.
Touch is a therapy that brings peace, joy and love. Touch triggers the feeling of safety, freedom and dignity.
The readings of the 19th Sunday explain how the touch of God is not only gentle, but also healing, courage and peace. The First reading talks about how gentle God was to a stressed-out man, full of fear and desperation. The Prophet Elijah was in fear for his life because of the threat from Jezabel, the wife of king Ahab, who killed the pagan priests. God reached out to him and revealed His providence through gentle, tiny whispering sounds.
In the Gospel, after being fed by Jesus (in the prior section of the 14th Chapter) with a miracle of the multiplication of bread, people want to make Him ‘King’. The disciples were probably already whispering among themselves of becoming “cabinet members” of His kingdom. Jesus wanted them to realize that He was not a just the king of the earth but the ‘Son of God’. He clears this up by walking on water. This is a symbolic action of having power over evil because, as per the old belief, all evils come from the nether world, existing underneath the world of water. Touching and holding the hands of the ‘sinking’ Peter, Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him with his caring touch! Jesus revealed Himself as the Son of God to Peter with His touch. Later in Chapter 16, when Jesus asks his disciples “who do you say that I am”, Peter, without hesitation, would shout out ‘you are the Messiah, son of the living God!’
God always yearns to touch us, His children, especially when we are confused, miserable or suffering from any physical, mental and psychological issues. Without any doubt or hesitation, let us approach Him to relish His touch of healing, courage, peace and joy.
This week, we also celebrate the feast of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let us pray to our Blessed Mother to intercede for us so we can get closer to her and experience the nearness of our Lord. The closer we get to Him, the more He reveals Himself as Son of God. Hail Mary – Mother of God pray for us!
Fr. Jay Raju