Homily for 19th Sunday – August 12-13, 2017 – Salem
after reading: 1 Kings 19:9-13; Ps 85; Romans 9:1-5; Mt 14:22-33
We run into a lot of storms as we try to float through life. The wind may be against us. The waves may toss us around. But none of that means that God has abandoned us. He’s walking beside us. And sometimes, that means He’s walking on water, doing something we’d never expect, staying near, even when we can’t imagine God being part of things, even when we feel like we’re alone, even when we can’t recognize the presence of Jesus in our lives.
He comes to us walking on the water, and tells us, “Do not be afraid. It is I.”
The one who comes in compassion to feed the hungry by multiplying bread; the one who reaches out to the sick and to the sinner, bringing them healing in body and soul; the one who humbles Himself to be born as a defenseless child to risk Himself so that He can teach humanity how to love.
And He places the invitation out there for us, “Come”
Come to me in spite of the fear; come to me right in the middle of the storm; come to me and know salvation. What does Peter have to do to come to Jesus? He has to get out of the boat. He has to trust Jesus enough to step out into the unknown. And there’s a lot of fear getting’ in the way. But, when you think about it, why do we trust the boat to hold us up? It’s being tossed about by the waves. Why do we have more faith in our boat than we do in Jesus? Why do we have more faith in our money, or our popularity, or whatever your boat happens to be…
Sometimes, we just don’t recognize Jesus, we just don’t see that He’s the one calling to us to get out of the boat. Sometimes, we’re not listening for that invitation.
Like Elijah in our first reading, we’re called to listen for that tiny whispering sound, the voice of God speaking in our hearts, always close to us, but so often overlooked, as we get distracted by the things that seem more dramatic in our lives, the earthquakes in our relationships, the fires we have to put out at work, the storms that rage through our homes.
But in the midst of every storm, Jesus is there walking on water, able to do things beyond our imagination, and inviting us to do amazing things with Christ.
When He invites Peter to come to Him, Peter joins Him in walking on the water without ever knowing how he’s doing it. Peter simply trusts, and focuses in on Christ.
“But when he saw how strong the wind was, he became frightened.”
When he took his eyes off Jesus, it became too hard to do alone. And that’s where we often find ourselves, invited by Christ to walk on water, but distracted and afraid because we’re looking at all the other things going on around us, and we can’t figure out how to stop the storm by ourselves. And we sink down into the whole mess rather than keep ourselves focused on Christ.
But the good news is that even while we’re floundering, Jesus is there with His arm stretched out to us. And we can still grab hold of Christ and allow Him to bring us back up. We can cry out with Peter, “Lord, save me!” and allow ourselves to refocus on Christ.
So, when you find yourself in the storm, gripping that boat with white-knuckles placing all your trust in something of this world, remember that there’s a God who can walk on water, who can lift us up and bring us to where we need to be. Remember that He speaks to us in the small whispering voice inside of us, so don’t expect an earthquake, or a fire, or a hurricane, don’t demand a sign, but look deeply inside your soul to see God’s love at the root of your existence. And do not be afraid, to step out of the boat, and walk with Christ.