Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Fr. Pete Iorio
August 8, 2020 – 5:00 PM
It is very clear in the first reading that God surprises us with his way of entering our lives. The history of the Jews indicated that God manifested himself in violent movements of nature. God communicated with Job from a strong wind, spoke to Moses from a burning bush, and gave Moses the commandments at the time of an earthquake. But when he wanted to manifest himself to the prophet Elijah, he made his presence felt in the murmur of a gentle breeze. We have to be ready to listen to the message of God that comes to us in unexpected ways. God has mysterious ways to manifest his word and his will.
I think it is an invitation to also consider the prayer that is called contemplation. We are used to praying the rosary, the chaplet of Divine Mercy, praising God with beautiful songs, etc. They are forms of prayer that are good. In the Catholic Church, there is a type of prayer that mimics what Elijah found, the soft voice of God in silence. The adoration of the Blessed Sacrament can include this type of prayer. It requires the practice of letting go of the thoughts that flood our minds. It takes discipline and perseverance. Attention to a single word like Abba or Jesus in repetition can open our soul to the voice of God. In practicing contemplation myself, I have found my entire life more serene and I am able to trust God at a deeper level.
Human beings are often drawn to the spectacular, but Scripture teaches us that God is present in the ordinary and we are unaware of his presence.
The Gospel also has surprises. Perhaps it occurred to us to wonder why Jesus decided to approach the disciples’ boat walking on water when the waves and the wind were so strong. The Gospel indicates that Jesus was walking calmly on a very turbulent sea. The disciples were afraid, not only of the water, but also of what they thought was a ghost. It was only upon hearing the words “Do not fear.” that they realized his identity.
The dynamics of the encounter of Saint Peter and Jesus teach us something important. If we trust Jesus when he gives us an invitation, like Come, even though it seems impossible, we should follow Peter’s example. Peter does walk on water. But, when he took his eyes off Jesus and let the storms around him scare him, he began to sink. Returning to trust in Jesus, he cries out, “Lord, save me.”
When everyone is safely in the boat and the winds die down, they all make a statement of faith: Truly, you are the Son of God.
Today, Denise Murray is going to make a statement of faith. She was sick when the RCIA class came into the church on Corpus Christi Sunday. She has already been baptized so she will make a profession of faith and receive Confirmation and first communion.
I would like to make a distinction about the word faith. We are using it in two contexts. Denise will make a profession of faith meaning she will state her beliefs in the teaching of the Catholic Church. When Jesus calls out Peter for his little faith, he indicates that Peter lacks trust and confidence in the power of Jesus. Most importantly it is this type of faith that requires growth through difficult experiences. These are called liminal or threshold experiences that push us beyond our own capacities of being in control, to letting Christ be in control.
So many times in life, we find ourselves in so-called troubled waters. Yes, we recognize Jesus and we have faith, but fear grabs us, and we are in danger of sinking. Troubled waters can appear as a health crisis, the death of a loved one, problems with children, the loss of a job, street violence, a pandemic that stops everything, or a thousand other things. We need the trust and confidence in Jesus that he invited Peter to have. In these moments when we are overwhelmed, we cry out, “Save me, Lord!” and we can be sure that Christ will answer us, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”