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Glancing Thoughts
19th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Year A
August 9, 2020
Eleonore Stump

Walking on Water

In the Second Reading, Paul enumerates the many blessings God gave his people in the time of the Law and the Prophets: the adoption as children of God, covenants, commandments and an order of worship. They had God’s promises, and the promise of glory was among them. But Paul makes the list of these blessings with great sorrow, as he says, because it is hard for him to see any of the promised good things in the current state of God’s people.

As long as he has faith and doesn’t look down, Peter comes to the Lord, walking on water.

It can certainly seem to a Christian as if the same list and the same sorrow are suitable for Christians now.

Christians are also promised adoption as children of God. They have a covenant, a new covenant, with God, and a new worship to go with it. They are promised glory too, the glory of holiness and union with the Lord. 

But, for Christians now as for God’s people then, it is often very difficult to see the fulfillment of these promises in one’s own life. Does anyone have even one day in which he feels that his life has shown the fruit of these promises on that day?

So, for every Christian, there is a sorrow of the sort Paul expressed, because the sins and failures of one’s life can seem so hard to square with the promises of God. Where is the adoption and the glory?

What are God’s people to do in this condition and its sorrow?

The Gospel gives us a picture for an answer: as long as he has faith and doesn’t look down, Peter comes to the Lord, walking on water.

No matter how sorrowful a person’s failures, he can nonetheless come to the Lord. Doing so may feel like walking without any solid ground under foot. But faith is a kind of walking on water, too, isn’t it? As long as one doesn’t look down, as long as one keeps his eyes fixed on Jesus in faith, even walking on nothing in order to come to him is possible. All the promises of God are fulfilled in Him.

Eleonore Stump

Eleonore Stump is Professor of Philosophy, Saint Louis University

Art by Martin Erspamer, OSB
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C). This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go