A HOMILY FOR THE NINETEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “A” – 8/13/17 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you!
Today, I want each one of us to think of that time in our life, when we were most afraid. Try to call to mind for just a minute, that horrible feeling that we get, when we think that we’re in such danger, that it just might be the end of our life. Maybe it was during a terrible storm or tornado. Maybe it was during a serious car accident. Maybe it was on an airplane during really bad turbulence or some other problem with the flight. Maybe it was when you found that bump on your skin, that the doctor wanted to test, to just to make sure that it wasn’t cancer. Maybe it was when you were robbed by someone with a knife or a gun. There are so many terrifying experiences that we can have today, all of which remind us of just how powerless we all are, at many times in our lives. Or maybe you’ve been really blessed to never have had any terrifying experiences in your life. Then count your blessings! Because rough times happen to all of us, at some time.
I can tell you about the one time that I was most afraid in my life. A few months after 9/11, I was traveling with some friends, and at about 2:00 AM, I was awoken by the sound of breaking glass in the hallway of the hotel. I went to the door of my hotel room, and looked out the little peep hole, and I saw a man, in military fatigues, on a two-way radio, and with a big knife strapped around his waist. He was speaking a language that I had never heard before. It wasn’t English, or Spanish, or Italian, or French, or Latin. After watching him for a few seconds, all the lights in the hallway went out, and I could only see the silhouette of the man, and the side of his face, which was lit up by the two-way radio. Now, in my head, I was absolutely convinced that the hotel was under attack from terrorists. And I’ve got to tell you, I was very much afraid. Why were they in our hotel? How many of them were there? Were they there to kill us all? And I thought very much of that Flight 93, that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11th, 2001, and how those people on that plane had to be very courageous, to confront the hijackers that day. And so terrified, I said my prayers, I begged God that others wouldn’t get hurt, and I grabbed the only weapon that I had in my room: my toenail clippers! I opened the door and I tackled the man in the hallway with the knife, and held him down, while I screamed for help. It was the most terrifying moment of my life. The hotel’s night manager came. He assured me that the hotel was not under attack. And invited everybody to go back to bed. The next morning, at breakfast, in one of the most embarrassing moments of my life, the hotel manager introduced me to Tomas, a member of the Romanian Red Cross, who had just arrived at the hotel very late the night before, only to be tackled by a Catholic priest, with toe-nail clippers! I apologized. I felt horrible. But I really did think that he and his buddies were there to kill us. Let’s just say I don’t have any plans to travel to Romania any time soon.
Today, in our Gospel, the Twelve Apostles have one of the most terrifying moments of their lives. Now, remember, almost half of these men were fishermen. They spent a lot of time on the sea, and they must have seen some really bad storms in their lives. But on this one night, it must have been really bad. The Apostles think that they are going to die. They are in real trouble. And it is then, that Jesus, their teacher and master, comes walking to them on the water, and saves their necks.
It’s in the middle of this terrifying storm, before Jesus calms things down, that Jesus invites St. Peter to get out of the boat and come to Him, walking on the water also. Now, Peter knew all about boats and the sea, and how deep that water was. The safe thing to do was to stay in that boat!
But that’s not what St. Peter does! St. Peter would have known that the safest place to be, would have been in that boat! So why did he get out of the boat and start walking on the water? Was he so afraid, that he was driven to do something senseless and foolish? That’s not what’s going on. Did Peter think that Jesus’ walking on water was a pretty neat trick, and he wanted to try it for himself? No, that’s not what’s going on here. Was Peter trying to prove himself, maybe even show off a little, in front of the other Apostles? No, we have no reason to believe that to be the case. Instead, Peter saw Jesus. Peter had a sincere heart that was not held back by cool, rational logic. He knew you can’t walk on water. But he saw Jesus and he wanted to be with Him. That was all that mattered. And he did walk on the water too! For a short while! But he did it, as long as he believed!
When we are battered by the storms of our lives, when we are afraid and don’t see any way out, when we get that sinking feeling, and our feet get wet, and maybe even think we’re going to die, we’ve got to have faith, to keep our eyes on Jesus, and we’ve got to go to Him! Jesus is always there, even in the middle of our storms. We’ve got to trust Him and know that He alone of going to be our hope! When we’re in trouble, so many times we look to the false securities of this world, to help us in our time of terror. And they never work! They never work!
Perhaps, just like St. Peter, we need to climb out of our comfort zones, and go to Jesus, trusting in His care, and trusting where He may lead us. This life can be rough at times, and yet He wants to lend us a hand, and lead us to the bright light of a new and brighter day! Let us give Him the chance to do that for us this week, in our lives, by going to Him even when we are afraid!
May God bless us this week, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!