Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Adam Royal
August 9, 2020 - 8:30 AM, 11:00 AM
I think we are too afraid of criticism. We fear trying something new or putting ourselves out there because we may make a mistake and someone might criticize us or tell us we are wrong. But Christianity is not a religion of fear. It is a religion of faith, of willingness to step outside ourselves and experience something new. Look at the disciples. Jesus is harsh with them. Every time they open their mouths Christ tells them they are wrong. There is hardly a page of the Gospels in which Jesus doesn’t chastise his closest followers. Yet, they kept on. No matter what flaws Jesus would point out they continued to follow him. The disciples knew by faith that Jesus was the way. Not an easy way, but the only way. And even in those moments when they doubted, when they did not have certainty, they took the risk.
That is why Peter got out of the boat. He didn’t know he was looking at Christ on the waters. Notice what he said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Peter wasn’t certain that he could see Christ, but he was certain that Christ was not in the boat. Christ is not found in our safe places, in the comfortable spaces we create in hopes of avoiding the storms of life. Jesus is found in the storms. He is found only when we can let go of our illusion of control and face head on the challenges of life. He is found when we have the courage to step out of the boat. Even if our faith is weak, even if we doubt, Christ is there. He calls out to each of us just as he called out to Peter. “Come to me.” Bring to me all your cares and your fears and you will find freedom.
But it doesn’t end there. Even after mustering the courage to step into our storms and confront the seemingly overwhelming challenges of life, we aren’t done. We must keep walking into them we must keep pushing ahead until we reach Christ, until we reach our eternal homeland. Like Peter, we may fail. Confronted with ever new difficulties we may succumb to fear and doubt and begin sinking into the waters. But even then, even in the midst of doubt, we are not abandoned. We will not be allowed to drown. For in our moment of desperation we see, just as Peter saw, that Christ has been beside us the entire time. His hand is held out to draw us up again, to place us on our feet to continue the journey.
In addition to his helping hand, to his grace, we may also hear a rebuke, a new call to change our way of life and conform it more to his. We may hear, “Oh you of little faith,” and it could sting, it could deflate our fragile egos. But so what! Jesus is right to criticize us. We do have too little faith. We are not perfect. We are weak and sinful. But he is merciful and his mercy is greater than our flaws. His mercy is greater than our weakness.
So let us take courage. Let us leave behind the boat, the false security of the world and our own creations, and let us run into the storms of life. For although we may not yet see Christ, and even though we may risk drowning, it is worth it. Because we cannot find the fullness of life until we are willing to risk loosing it.