Dr. Scott Hahn: Sinking Fear


Dr. Scott Hahn reflects on the Mass readings for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A).

Readings:
1 Kings 19:911–13
Psalm 85:9–14
Romans 9:1–5
Matthew 14:22–33


How do we find God in the storms and struggles of our lives, in the trials we encounter in trying to do His will?

God commands Elijah in today’s First Reading to stand on the mountain and await His passing by. And in the Gospel, Jesus makes the disciples set out across the waters to meet Him.

In each case, the Lord makes himself present amid frightening tumult—heavy winds and high waves, fire and earthquakes.

Elijah hides his face. Perhaps he remembers Moses, who met God on the same mountain, also amid fire, thunder, and smoke (see Deuteronomy 4:10–15Exodus 19:17–19). God told Moses no one could see His face and live, and He sheltered Moses in the hollow of a rock, as He shelters Elijah in a cave (see Exodus 33:18–23).

The disciples, likewise, are too terrified to look on the face of God. Today’s Gospel is a revelation of Jesus’ divine identity. Only God treads across the crest of the sea (see Job 9:8) and rules the raging waters (see Psalm 89:9–10). And the words of assurance that Jesus speaks—“It is I”—are those God used to identify himself to Moses (see Exodus 3:14Isaiah 43:10).

Even Peter is too overcome by fear to imitate his Lord. His fears, Jesus tells him, are a sign of his lack of faith. And so it often is with us. Our fears make us doubt, make it hard to see His glory dwelling in our midst.

Yet, we should know, as we sing in today’s Psalm, that His salvation is near to those who hope in Him. By faith we should know, as Paul asserts in today’s Epistle, that we are heirs to the promises made to His children, Israel.

We must trust that He whispers to us in the trials of our lives—that He who has called us to walk along the way of His steps. He will save us whenever we begin to sink.


Visit the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology website to listen to an audio recording of this reflection from Dr. Scott Hahn and to subscribe to receive his Sunday Mass Reflections via email. We encourage you to support his work.


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About the Author

Dr. Scott Hahn

Dr. Scott Hahn was born in 1957, and has been married to Kimberly since 1979. He and Kimberly have six children (two of which are seminarians for the diocese of Steubenville) and eighteen grandchildren. An exceptionally popular speaker and teacher, Dr. Hahn has delivered numerous talks nationally and internationally on a wide variety of topics related to Scripture and the Catholic faith. His talks have been effective in helping thousands of Protestants and fallen away Catholics to (re)embrace the Catholic faith.

He has been awarded the Father Michael Scanlan, T.O.R., Chair of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization at Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he has taught since 1990, and is the founder and president of the Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology. From 2005 to 2011, Dr. Hahn held the Pope Benedict XVI Chair of Biblical Theology and Liturgical Proclamation at St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pa. From 2014 to 2015, he served as the McEssy Distinguished Visiting Professor of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization, University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, IL.

Dr. Hahn is also the bestselling author of numerous books including The Lamb’s SupperReasons to Believe, and Rome Sweet Home (co-authored with his wife, Kimberly). Some of his newest books are The First Society, The Fourth CupRomans: A Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture, The CreedEvangelizing CatholicsAngels and Saints, and Joy to the World.

Scott received his Bachelor of Arts degree with a triple-major in Theology, Philosophy and Economics from Grove City College, Pennsylvania, in 1979, his Masters of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 1982, and his Ph.D. in Biblical Theology from Marquette University in 1995. Scott has ten years of youth and pastoral ministry experience in Protestant congregations (in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts, Kansas and Virginia) and is a former Professor of Theology at Chesapeake Theological Seminary. He was ordained in 1982 at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Fairfax, Virginia. He entered the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil, 1986.

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