August 2020

Sunday 2nd August: Trinity 8: Matthew 14. 13-21

When Jesus heard about John, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. But the crowds found out about it and followed Him on foot from the towns.  When He stepped ashore and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick. When evening came, the disciples came to Him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is already late. Dismiss the crowds so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”  “They do not need to go away,” Jesus replied. “You give them something to eat.”  “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.  “Bring them here to Me,” Jesus said.  And He directed the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He spoke a blessing. Then He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.  About five thousand men were fed, in addition to women and children.

Jesus had had a busy day, teaching and probably answering questions.  It was early evening and the people were hungry.  The disciples were all for sending them away – probably out of concern for him.  Jesus challenged them to feed the crowd, but the only food available was a small picnic.  The ‘loaves’ would have been like our bread rolls.  As we read, Jesus used what was available to perform a miracle and everyone had enough to eat.  We learn two things from this story; first, that God’s generosity is overwhelming as he provided much more food than was needed.  Secondly, Jesus used what was available to him.

We don’t have to be super-talented to be used by God – just willing to allow God to use us for his work.  What gifts do we have?  Will we allow God to use them for his work?

 

9th August:  Trinity 9: Matthew 14 22-33

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds.  After He had sent them away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone, but the boat was already far from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went out to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost!” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus spoke up at once: “Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.”  “Lord, if it is You,” Peter replied, “command me to come to You on the water.” “Come,” said Jesus. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and took hold of Peter. “You of little faith,” He said, “why did you doubt?” And when they had climbed back into the boat, the wind died down.  Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God!”

The message of this story is not that Jesus walked on water.  How he did it remains unexplained.  The important lesson for us is that however hard life is at times, Jesus does not take away problems, but is there with us – standing alongside us, giving support and encouragement and guiding us through.  Look back at the past few months of the Covid 19 pandemic.  Amidst the fear, disruption and pain, God has been there.  Look closer at your own life and you will find some surprising incidents of kindness, care, consideration and signs of hope.  God has been active throughout giving us peace and calm in the storm.  He will never leave us alone.

See how many signs of God’s love and care you can identify in your life in the last   4-5 months.

 

16th August:  Trinity 10:  Matthew 15 21-28

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon.  And a Canaanite woman from that region came to Him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is miserably possessed by a demon.” But Jesus did not answer a word. So His disciples came and urged Him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before Him. “Lord, help me!” she said. But Jesus replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”  “Yes, Lord,” she said, “even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”  “O woman,” Jesus answered, “your faith is great! Let it be done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

At first sight, Jesus seems to have been coldly refusing to help a woman in desperate need.  He had said that he was sent to help only the Jews – not what we think of as Christian love.  However, he was in a land where there was bitter hatred between the Jews and people of other cultures.  It would have caused further mistrust and confusion as to who he was if he had tried to please all the people at once.  Jesus did, however, recognise in this woman not only a deep need, but a real faith in him.  He granted her request.

How do we view the needs and problems of people of different cultures?  How can we follow Jesus’ example of love?

 

23rd August: Trinity 11: Matthew 16  13-20

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He questioned His disciples: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then He admonished the disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Christ.

Jesus had caused a stir in Galilee!  He was so different from other travelling preachers.  People had been asking who he was and the disciples had been listening to the gossip!  Their reply to Jesus’ question showed how confused the people were.  Suddenly, Jesus challenged them – what did they think?  Peter, with a flash of divine inspiration, saw the truth.  Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah.  Peter didn’t fully understand what he had said, but he had come a long way from the man who had left his fishing boat to follow Jesus.  Jesus saw the qualities in Peter which would make him a good leader for the future Church.

Think carefully.  Who do you say Jesus is?  What would you reply to someone who asked you?

 

30th August: Trinity 12:  Matthew 16  21-25

From that time on Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. “Far be it from You, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to You!” But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me. For you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Peter had just recognised Jesus as the Messiah, but now we see that he didin’t understand what it meant.  The Jews were all expecting the Messiah to appear as a conquering hero who would free them from the tyranny of the Roman rule.  It was understandable that Peter didn’t want Jesus to suffer, but he had no idea that it had to happen before Jesus entered into his glory.  It was a hard lesson that Peter had to learn if he was to lead others to follow Jesus.  Peter also would have to suffer himself.

Have we fully taken on board that it was through immense suffering that Jesus saved each one of us?  Have we realised that we too, if necessary, are called to suffer if we follow him?




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