Sunday mass Reading & thoughts 10th August

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 14,22-33.

Then he made the disciples get into the 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 him, 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.”


Is it a coincidence that only this week, I read an article from the August issue of Leaders executive entitled “Fear not” by Jim Collins?

Fear mongering is a very powerful motivational tool and it will only last a spur or jolt.

I quote Jim Collins: <<I had a personal experience that helped me understand that dynamic. Shortly after receiving a teaching award at Stanford, I began to dread my course. I worried that I could not repeat the performance and that the quality of other courses would exceed mine. I felt motivated, to be sure, but it was a kind of motivation that sapped away the sheer joy I normally felt in teaching.

Around the same time, I was reading about John Wooden, the UCLA men’s basketball coach who led his team to 10 NCAA championships in 12 years during the 1960s and 1970s. It dawned on me that Wooden had never made it a goal to repeat the previous year’s performance—not even if it had been an undefeated season. He focused his attention entirely on how to improve on the previous year. Wooden highlighted for me a supreme truth: that excellence is the residual result of continual creation and improvement for its own sake. Whereas the fear mongers concentrate on the demoralizing effect of failure, Wooden capitalized on the inspiring payoff of achievement—the pure, reenergizing glee that comes from simply creating something new and doing something better.

It was an epiphany that changed my approach. Instead of obsessing about not losing what I had, I shifted to focusing on making the course better, even if just by a little bit. It was a liberating shift that restored the joy of preparation that had formerly guided me. I had fun again! And, most important, the course did in fact improve.

I acknowledge fear as a powerful motivator for all of us. I’m as subject to it as anyone. But the dark side of motivation by fear is that it is like a powerful stimulant: it can jolt you for a while, but it also inevitably leaves you more drained than before. Wanting to survive—to merely avoid losing what we have—is not a goal that can motivate over the long haul. It offers no promise of forward motion, of accomplishment. (You can’t ever finish “not losing” something—until, that is, you’re not alive to “not lose” it anymore.) Indeed, had Beethoven focused primarily on not losing his stature after the Third Symphony, rather than pushing further, I suspect we would not have the Fifth or the Ninth symphonies. And Beethoven would not have become Beethoven.

So the next time you encounter a “Change or die!” lecture, in print or in person, remember the words of Royal Robbins, the great rock climber who pioneered ascents of Yosemite’s big walls: “The point is not to avoid death—if you want to do that, simply stay on the ground. The point is to reach the top, and then keep on climbing.”>>

I am reminded of the days when as a young boy of 7 years, my teacher preparing me to receive my first communion, motivated me by fear: avoidance of ending up in hell. Our church and the teachings of the time were very much in the spirit before the changes brought by the Vatican II council. ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid’ shifts my focus to loftier highs. ‘And Peter’s reply: Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water’ calls me to go in the direction of my Lord. What a liberating shift! Lord I praise you.

Lord with your help and blessings I want to reach the top with you.