A HOMILY FOR THE NINETEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “A” – 8/9/20/ – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
Have you ever raised your hand, and volunteered for something, and knew immediately that you were in trouble? It’s that sinking feeling, isn’t it? Like, what am I getting myself into? This has happened to me a few times in my life. But the one time that I remember the most, was when I was in seminary, one of the monks at St. Meinrad came to our class, which had about 45 guys in it, and asked, if one of us, would be willing to volunteer to help with a new special scouting program, in Spencer County. Special Scouts is a Boy Scout program for mentally and physically handicapped boys of any age. I did not know anything about Special Scouts. Now, my brothers and I had been in the regular Boy Scouts when we were growing up. I have to confess, Boy Scouts was not my favorite activity growing up, but my brothers and I did it. So when the monk asked for a volunteer to help out, at first I sat there with the rest of my seminary class and no one raised their hand. Then the monk said, “You mean there’s no one in the entire 45 of you who have any experience with Boy Scouts?” And it was right then, at that question, that my hand shot up, and in a matter of seconds, I was in charge of the Boy Scouts of America Special Scouting program for Spencer County, Indiana. It was NOT like Special Forces. What was odd about the whole thing is that, typically, a lot of priestly vocations come out of the Boy Scouts. In fact, about 25% of ordained Catholic priests were boy scouts. Anyways. I digress. For the next four years I would be in charge of a Special Scout troop in Ferdinand, Indiana. It was NOT what I planned on. It would not have been what I would have chosen to do. But it was an amazing experience that I enjoyed very much. I just didn’t expect my hand to go up and to volunteer for something like that at all.
Maybe, that’s exactly how St. Peter must have felt in our Gospel today. St. Peter had spent a lot of time in boats and on the water. He must have seen some pretty major storms. He must have seen a lot of things, but he had never seen anybody walking on the sea! Let alone, his good friend and teacher, Jesus, walking on the sea! So when Jesus says, “Come!” St. Peter doesn’t hesitate. It’s like he volunteers immediately, and he’s over the side of the boat, and he is walking on the water! And remember, the amazing part about this is that Jesus is completely ignoring the laws of physics and logic, and He, the Lord, is walking on the water. They all see it. But the next most amazing thing is that Peter also WALKS ON THE WATER! For a while, and we don’t know how long, Peter is doing it. Could have been for a few seconds, could have been much longer, it’s working and Peter is walking on the water with Jesus. Now, is Peter making this happen? Do you know too many human beings that can walk on water like this? No, typically we humans sink, and sink quickly, when we try to walk on the water. God is doing this. The Lord is allowing St. Peter to do something that can only be called “supernatural”. God is doing this. St. Peter is trusting, and believing, and having faith that it is going to work, right up until the time that his Faith starts to weaken, and he starts to get wet. Then, he’s afraid. And he cries out, “Lord, help me!” But let’s not forget, St. Peter was doing it. He was walking on the water. He
had volunteered. He raised his hand. He got out of that boat. And for a while, this son of Abraham was walking on the water with Son of God! Pretty amazing stuff, right? In some ways it doesn’t matter that eventually St. Peter gets wet and has to call out to Jesus for help. He did it!
How many times and in how many ways, even right now, is God asking you to volunteer? How does God need you to raise your hand, and get out of your comfort zone, and take that step out in Faith, so that the Lord can show you just what YOU can do? So many times, when we read this Gospel text, we want to talk about St. Peter’s lack of Faith. This isn’t about St. Peter’s lack of Faith, it is about what God can do for us and with us, when we have even a little bit of Faith! St. Peter walked on that chopping sea, in early morning of the night, with all his buddies watching, but it wasn’t St. Peter doing it. It was God doing it. God wants to do the same amazing things with you and me, even all these years later. The possibilities are endless! But God does need us to raise our hand. He needs us to volunteer. He needs us to be a little bold and a little adventurous. And ultimately, just like St. Peter, He needs us to get out of the safety and comfort of our boats, and to step trusting fully in Him, onto the sea. Can you do it? Could I do it? Sure, we can. Most especially when we experience His power and what He can do!
My brothers and sisters, we have an amazing God Who even today, in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of economic and political turmoil, in the middle of the craziness of this world, STILL wants to show us what He can do in the middle of the severe storms of our lives. Let us give Him that opportunity. You know, in our first reading, Isaiah found our amazing God hiding in the tiny whispering sound. Not in the noise of the strong wind. Not in the crushing rocks. Not in an Earthquake. And not in a fire! In the tiny whispering sound, that beckons us to trust Him! Let us listen to the lessons of these readings. For they are meant to help us today!
+ May God bless us today, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!