Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

8/10/2014 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

How often do we live our lives in the fourth watch of the night? Our fears so cripple us that we are unable to even recognize the Lord, the One who is always there, always coming to guide us on His way. He invites us to respond in faith as well. When we do, faith helps us to overcome our fear and walk into freedom.

We can miss a real encounter with the Lord if we think that this account is only about Peter and the disciples - something distant which happened over two millennia ago. The fact is this story is meant for you and for me - for the here and now! We live much of our daily life in the fourth watch of the night, at the time just before daybreak. At the end of a night which seems like it will never end. Our daily lives seem to be lived in the midst of tumultuous waves of struggle. We are often filled with fear and crippled as a result and unable to see the Lord right there, on the horizon of hope. This story shows us the way to overcome fear through faith.

We live our lives now in Jesus Christ and we are at home in the Boat of the Church. We can always find Him in the fourth watch of the night, if we choose to respond in faith. When we turn our faith into a verb, we too get our sea legs, as they say in the nautical culture. We also learn a new way of living - and of loving. Fear simply becomes a field of choice, an occasion for trust. Even in the fourth watch of the night, there is a bridge between fear and freedom, it passes through Jesus who tells all who will fix their eyes upon Him - Take Courage; it is I; Be Not Afraid.

We live our lives now in Jesus Christ and we are at home in the Boat of the Church. We can always find Him in the fourth watch of the night, if we choose to respond in faith. When we turn our faith into a verb, we too get our sea legs, as they say in the nautical culture. We also learn a new way of living - and of loving. Fear simply becomes a field of choice, an occasion for trust. Even in the fourth watch of the night, there is a bridge between fear and freedom, it passes through Jesus who tells all who will fix their eyes upon Him - Take Courage; it is I; Be Not Afraid.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/10/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Fourth watch, trust, living faith, St Josemaria Escriva, Opus Dei, Friends of God, Christian struggle, spirituality, fear, faith, struggle, St Peter, recovery, renewal, temptation, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - I am going through some really difficult struggles on every front in my life, family, work and unfolding ministry. Many of the people I care about are facing the same kind of challenging situation within their own context of living. The Gospel passage read at today's Catholic Liturgy (Matt. 12: 22-36) is one which is familiar to many of us:

"After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. "It is a ghost," they said, and they cried out in fear.

"At once Jesus spoke to them, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." Peter said to him in reply, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come." Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, "Truly, you are the Son of God
."(Gospel of St. Matthew 14: 22-33)

One of the mistakes we can make when he hear these familiar stories at Mass is to stop listening because we have heard that story so often! When we do, we make a huge mistake. We fail to allow the Lord to speak to us personally. 

One of the greatest influences in my Christian life is St. Josemaria Escriva. He is the founder of Opus Dei. I am not a member of the work, it has no place for deacons, but his writings - and the spirituality which is revealed through them - have influenced me for decades.

St. Escriva regularly encourages us, in his inspiring writings, to enter into these Gospel stories. We can do that by actually placing ourselves in the scene, as one of the participants, and allow the Lord to speak to us through the story. For example, in Friends of God we read:

"If you wish to get close to Our Lord through the pages of the Gospels, I always recommend that you try to enter in on the scene taking part as just one more person there. In this way (and I know many perfectly ordinary people who live this way) you will be captivated like Mary was, who hung on every word that Jesus uttered or, like Martha, you will boldly make your worries known to him, opening your heart sincerely about them all no matter how little they may be."

We can miss a real encounter with the Lord if we think that this account is only about Peter and the disciples - something distant which happened over two millennia ago. The fact is this story is meant for you and for me - for the here and now! We live much of our daily life in the fourth watch of the night, at the time just before daybreak. At the end of a night which seems like it will never end.

Our daily lives seem to be lived in the midst of tumultuous waves of struggle. We are often filled with fear and crippled as a result and unable to see the Lord right there, on the horizon of hope. This story shows us the way to overcome fear through faith. It invites us to live differently, to walk on the waters of daily life by dynamic, living faith.

The Jewish people, living under Roman rule for so long, had adopted a number of Roman practices. The Roman practice of dividing the night into four watches or divisions of three hours was one of those practices. This was particularly important for those engaged in nautical activity. The Fourth Watch was between 3 A.M. and 6 A.M.

It is also important to always try to place these wonderful Gospel accounts within the context from which the passage for the Gospel reading of the day is taken. The disciples had just returned from experiencing the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves.

They had seen the Lord take what little bread that they had, multiply it, and give it back to them - so that they could feed the very crowd they had suggested be sent away. They knew that he was able to work miracles - and that they had been invited to participate in this extraordinary act of love, by simply giving the little they had. After it was all over, they even collected up twelve baskets full!

Now, He just wanted to pray, to commune with the Father. So He placed them in the boat, which the early Christian Fathers saw as an image of the Church, the new Ark of the New Covenant. It was the "fourth watch of the night", the last hours right before dawn.That "fourth watch" always included the darkest hour.

The winds and sea raged and they became horribly afraid. Their fear was so crippling that they did not even recognize Him as He came toward them. They thought that the Word Incarnate was a ghost. "Take Courage, it is I; do not be afraid." He spoke with such reassurance and tenderness.

How often do we live our lives in the fourth watch of the night? Our fears so cripple us that we are unable to even recognize the Lord, the One who is always there, always coming to guide us on His way. He invites us to respond in faith as well. When we do, faith helps us to overcome our fear and walk into freedom.

That is what we see happening with Peter in this wonderful account. He responded in faith to the voice of His Lord. When he kept his eyes focused on Jesus he was able to do what seemed to be impossible. When he walked by faith, he walked into the freedom that comes from Jesus, the Lord of the winds and the sea.

We live our lives now in Jesus Christ and we are at home in the Boat of the Church. We can always find Him in the fourth watch of the night, if we choose to respond in faith. When we turn our faith into a verb, we too get our sea legs, as they say in the nautical culture.

We also learn a new way of living - and of loving. Fear simply becomes a field of choice, an occasion for trust. Even in the fourth watch of the night, there is a bridge between fear and freedom, it passes through Jesus who tells all who will fix their eyes upon Him - Take Courage; it is I; Be Not Afraid.

-----
Deacon Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and six grandchildren, He serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Stephen, Martyr Parish in Chesapeake, VA. He is also a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate.

---


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'


Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for DECEMBER 2016
Universal:
End to Child-Soldiers: That the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.
Evangelization: Europe: That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness, and truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.



Comments


More U.S.

GODSPEED JOHN GLENN Watch

Image of We pray heaven is everything you hoped it would be. Thank you for your lifelong service.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

American hero, John Herschel Glenn has died. He was 95 years old. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - John Glenn has died, surrounded by family and friends at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio following a brief illness. He is survived ... continue reading


Homily of Peter M. J. Stravinskas: Explaining the Immaculate Conception Watch

Image of

By Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D

Cardinal Newman shows how from the very earliest centuries, theologians like St. Irenaeus of Lyons believed this doctrine without having a name for it yet or a precise explanation.  Irenaeus, for example, dubs Mary the new or second Eve.  Just as St. Paul ... continue reading


LIBERAL MEDIA: DO AS WE SAY - CNN accused of racism by its own employees Watch

Image of Liberal media paragon CNN has been accused of racism.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The paragon of liberal virtue CNN has been sued by its own employees for racial discrimination. It turns out, CNN is run by hypocrites. So why do people still watch their fake news? LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) -- Current and former CNN employees have filed a ... continue reading


These 21 celebrity LIARS said they would leave the country if Trump was elected, so why aren't they packing? Watch

Image of These celebrities vowed to leave the country if we elected Trump. So, where's our reward? Why are they still here?

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Before the election of Donald Trump as our next president, during the dark days when the media insisted that Hillary Clinton was the inevitable winner and we had all better get used to it, celebrities speculated on what they would do if Trump won. One after another, ... continue reading


An example of grace, power and courage - Young woman with Down syndrome opens BOOMING business in face of discriminating workforce Watch

Image of Collette Divitto struggled to find employment until she realized she could be her own boss (Collettey's).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Collette Divitto is a beautiful 26-year-old woman who was forced to fight an uphill battle just to find employment. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "It's hard to find a paying job for people like me," Collette admitted to Local 12.She was born with Down syndrome ... continue reading


Ohio passes amazing Right to Life bill - Abortions to be BANNED after a baby's heartbeat is detected Watch

Image of Ohio passes amazing life-saving law.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Rejoice! Entire generations of unborn children may have a chance at life, thanks to the state of Ohio's efforts. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - On Tuesday, December 6, Ohio made an amazing first step toward banning abortions in their state.The Ohio Senate passed ... continue reading


Homeland Security releases frightening report - Is the U.S. REALLY safe? Watch

Image of Homeland Security reports the United States is facing the highest threat of ISIS attacks since 9/11.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report claims the United States has moved from "a world of terrorist-directed attacks to, a world that also includes the threat of terrorist-inspired attacks." What other threats, looming unseen, can be found in America? LOS ... continue reading


The freezing cold has arrived! Is global warming to blame? Watch

Image of Freezing conditions in Montreal caused two buses, a police car and a snowplow to pile up in a downtown intersection.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A freezing airmass is dipping into the lower 48 states, causing temperatures to plunge as much as 35 below average. Snow and ice are making life difficult for many people in the central U.S., and the polar cold is expected to move east in the next few days. LOS ... continue reading


Why did the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor? What lessons can we learn from that fateful day? Watch

Image of The Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor was a tactical surprise, but a strategic blunder, with the valuable aircraft carriers out of reach.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

December 7 is the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. As flags fly at half-staff, it is important to remember what happened and why. Could such a thing ever happen to our country again? LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - At 7:55 AM, while sailors ... continue reading


Judge cruelly denies justice to three victims raped by probation officer, cites infamous 'six month rule' Watch

Image of Kim Adams is one of three victims raped by a Kern County probation officer. She has been denied justice.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Imagine you've made a mistake and must serve probation. Now imagine you've been ordered to submit to sexual advances of your probation officer or face life in prison. This is the very real situation that at least three women found themselves in Kern County. Even worse, ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Sirach 48:1-4, 9-11
1 Then the prophet Elijah arose like a fire, his word flaring like a ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
2 over Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh; rouse your valour and come to our ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 17:10-13
10 And the disciples put this question to him, 'Why then do the scribes ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 10th, 2016 Image

Pope Saint Gregory III
December 10: He was just standing there, not doing anything ... Read More