Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

8/10/2014 (6 months 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 (6 months 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.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.



Comments


More U.S.

On the Growing Calls to Put the Death Penalty to Death and the Right to Life Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

I applaud the joint editorial of America magazine, the National Catholic Register, the National Catholic Reporter and Our Sunday Visitor, in standing together in opposition to the death penalty. How about another editorial from the four, opened up to many more ... continue reading


FEDS VS. THE STATE: Who will win in Alabama standoff? Watch

Image of Some civil rights marchers have rejected any comparison between the quest to redefine marriage as a genderless union and the quest by black Americans to obtain their full civil rights.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Homosexual equivalency advocates liken Alabama's defiance of federal authorities on same sex marriage to a similar stance during the civil rights movement of the 1960's. The Alabama Supreme Court has made itself an outlier in the judicial march legalizing ... continue reading


Remembering Father Alfred Kunz: A Murder Unsolved Watch

Image of I try not to think of how his life ended any more. Rather, I try to remember how he lived. That is because, as a Catholic, I realize how short our lives are. We all will come to an end...sooner or later. What really matters is what we do, in keeping with God's plan, while we are here on this planet. Father Alfred Kunz knew that. He knew why he was here on earth and he made an eternal difference.

By Matt C. Abbott

In the early morning of March 4, 1998, Father Alfred Kunz, a priest and canon lawyer of the Diocese of Madison, Wis., was found brutally murdered in his parish school, St. Michael's, in Dane, Wis. His throat had been slashed. To date-17 years later-the murder ... continue reading


Saved by a sea lion! Suicide leaper from San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge loves to counsel others Watch

Image of Kevin Hines later spoke to a man who had been on the bridge that day. The man informed him that the underwater creature was not a shark - but a sea lion.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Thirty-three-year-old Kevin Hines was at one time a suicidal teenager who battled mental illness. It first dawned on him that his life served some sort of purpose when in one of his several suicide attempts, he threw himself off the Golden Gate Bridge in San ... continue reading


PM Netanyahu's Clarion Call Watch

Image of Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015, President Obama, his staff, and many Democrats in Congress boycotted Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu speech.

By Adele M. Gill

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015, as President Obama, his staff, and many Democrats in Congress boycotted his speech, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu sounded a trumpet, a clarion call, for World peace. The message he delivered was cogent and clear: Peace and unity for all ... continue reading


Standing ground: Alabama Supreme Court halts same sex marriages Watch

Image of Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has issued opinions saying the probate judges didn't have to heed the federal court rulings to marry gay couples, appeared to be absent from the decision. His name was neither in the concur or dissent portion of the order.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The State of Alabama remains adamantly opposed to same sex marriages. The Supreme Court of Alabama has since ordered all the state's probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The decision is just the latest in a growing legal battle ... continue reading


WHY has heroin overdose deaths in the U.S. quadrupled over the past 15 years? Watch

Image of Heroin overdose death most rapidly in the Midwest, the report said. No explanation was given from the report.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Once considered the lowest a person could fall, heroin deaths and addiction have quadrupled over the past 15 years. Death rates from heroin overdoses have nearly quadrupled since 2000 to reach 2.7 per 100,000 people in 2013. The National Center for Health ... continue reading


Has Obama destroyed 60 years of friendship? U.S.-Israeli relations frayed after dismissive comments from President Obama Watch

Image of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke before a joint session of Congress on March 3.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In his dramatic, and controversial, speech before the U.S. Congress, Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the proposed agreement between the U.S. and Iran was "a bad deal" which would not hinder Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


What is she hiding? Hillary Clinton refused to use government email address while Secretary of State Watch

Image of Hillary Clinton did not use an official government email address while she was Secretary of State, potentially violating a law regarding open and free access to official documents.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Potential 2016 Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton may have shot herself in the foot; it has been revealed that as Secretary of State, Clinton used a personal email address for official government business, which may be a crime. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Is your teenager in danger? 1 in 5 teen girls experience dating abuse in the U.S. Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It seems like teenagers nowadays have forgotten what "respect your partner" means. Oftentimes, teenage couples leave one battered and the other selfish. Some even find fulfillment in impeding the rights of other people, and American teenagers have fallen into the hands ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13, 17-18
3 Jacob loved Joseph more than all his other sons, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 105:16-17, 18-19, 20-21
16 He called down famine on the land, he took away ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46
33 'Listen to another parable. There was a man, a ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for March 6th, 2015 Image

St. Colette
March 6: Colette was the daughter of a carpenter named DeBoilet at Corby ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter