Astounding very much indeed!
Jesus, the astounding Son of Man, will astound us even at the last judgment. He wants us to put him in the center.
Among other things, the way Jesus teaches is astounding. He teaches with authority. This means, says St. Gregory the Great, that his authority does not come from domineering power but from good behavior. In contrast to those who proudly seat on the chair of Moses, Jesus practices what he preaches.
But Jesus is even more astounding because we find what he practices and teaches to be out of the ordinary. He asserts on one occasion, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” He adds, besides, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.”
Such teaching, then, and others that sound paradoxical to worldly ears are all part of what makes Jesus astounding. They turn the world upside down. In that way, they warn those who are strong and they lift up those who are weak.
Jesus is astounding in his miracles, walking, for example, or making us walk, on the water in a storm.
Jesus astounds us with his miracles. They are the wonders of his love. Through them becomes effective and real the proclamation of the Good News to us poor people.
But wondrous deeds serve to tell us to fix our gaze on the one who reassures us in an astounding way, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” That is because we shall surely sink when we take our eyes off Jesus and keep them instead on ourselves and our safety.
But just the same, our Savior stretches out his hand and catches us. He makes us keep our eyes fixed on him again and forget ourselves, for in him lies our salvation. He is the calming and uplifting presence of the tiny whispering sound.
What is astounding, then, does not have to do with the turmoil the violent bring about. What is astounding is synonymous rather with the peace that belongs to the meek and humble of heart. And to those, too, who could wish they themselves were accursed for the sake of their own people.
And, in the end, those who do not let any poor person go hungry will receive the attestation of blessedness. They see the body of Christ in the one who startles many nations and leaves kings speechless. In other words, they have turned the medal (SV.EN XI:26). So, they will hear: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the Kingdom.”
Lord Jesus, do not let us keep our eyes fixed on ourselves, so that we may not sink. May we never lose sight of you who are exceedingly astounding.
13 August 2017
19th Sunday in O.T. (A)
1 Kgs 19, 9a. 11-13a; Rom 9, 1-5; Mt 14, 22-33