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Fr. Tim’s Homily for August 13, 2017

19th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME-A

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1 Kings 19: 9a, 11-13a

Romans 9: 1-5

Matthew 14: 22-33

 

         There is a story about a man who decided to tie helium balloons to his favorite lawn chair.

         He had neighbors hold the chair down while he added lots and lots of balloons.  Finally, he sat in the chair and told them, “Let go!”

         He had a sharp instrument with him to pop the balloons so that he could land gently.

         He expected to float up in the air about 10 feet.  However, the chair began to rise above the house, above the trees and out of sight.

         Then the air traffic controller got this message:  “This is Captain Jones, flight 411.  I have just passed a man in a lawn chair at 3,000 feet.”

         The man eventually came down.  Reporters asked him: “What were you thinking, man?”  To which he replied:  “Sometimes you just have to do something.”

         Simon Peter was like that.  Sometimes he just had to do something, or say something.  And often this got him into trouble.

And so in today’s Gospel – which comes right after Jesus had fed the 5,000 – Jesus instructed His disciples to go on ahead of Him in the boat to the other side of the lake, while He dismissed the crowd.  Jesus wanted some time by Himself to pray.

         Then shortly before dawn, Jesus went out to the boat where His disciples were, a few miles offshore.  And He got there by walking on the water.  “It is a ghost,” they cried out in fear.

         Of course, this miracle has been the target of a lot of humor.

There was a frugal man who took a trip to the Holy Land.  When he got to the Sea of Galilee he was aghast to find out that it would cost $50 an hour to rent a boat.

         “Where I live,” he said, “I could get a boat for $20.”

         “That might be true,” the boat man said, “but you have to take into consideration that the Sea of Galilee is water on which Our Blessed Lord Himself once walked.”

         “I’m not surprised,” the frugal man said.  “At $50 an hour for a boat, it’s no wonder that He walked!”

         A man named John in Minnesota was told that his father and grandfather had both walked on water on their 21st birthdays.  On his, John decided to do the same.  So he and his friend, Steve, headed out to the lake.  When they got to the center, John stepped off the side of the boat… and nearly drowned.

         When they got back home John asked his grandmother:  “Grandma, why couldn’t I walk on water on my 21st birthday just like my dad and grandpa did?”

         Grandma took John by his hands and looked into his eyes and said:  “That is because your father and your grandfather were both born in January… and you were born in July, dear.”

         But in this Gospel, Jesus really did walk on the water.  Jesus said to the frightened disciples, “Take courage.  It is I.  Do not be afraid.”

         Simon Peter spoke up:  “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”  And Jesus said, “Come.”

         Peter began to walk on the water.  But when he saw how strong the wind was, he became frightened.  And beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”  And Jesus stretched out His hand and caught Peter.  [I suspect Jesus had a smile on His face.]  And Jesus said, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’

         After they got into the boat, the wind died down.  Those who were in the boat did Jesus homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”

         Sometimes you just have to do something.  I believe that is why we find Simon Peter so attractive.  He was not the kind of individual who just sat around and watched.  He got busy and did something.

         Many people are afraid of the decision to follow Jesus closely when it seems to involve “a leap of faith.”  Maybe that is why they want to keep Jesus “at a safe distance.”

Maybe we are not ready to leap out of the boat to come closer to Jesus.  Perhaps we would rather just play it safe and stay right where we are.

         There was a newspaper ad that read:  “The greatest waste of our natural resources is the number of people who never achieve their potential.  Aim low:  and sink.  Aim high:  and soar.”

         Students:  a new school year is just around the corner.  Don’t be afraid.  Aim high – and soar!

         In all of our lives, there is something right now that needs attention so that we can become even better disciples of Jesus.  Don’t be afraid to ask Jesus:  “Lord, during this Mass, show me one thing that will help me be a better person this week – and help me to do it.”

         Don’t be afraid to step out of the boat at Jesus’ invitation.  Just keep your eyes on Him.

As has been said:  “When all is said and done, often more is said than done.”

Sometimes you just have to do something.  Peter had a calling from Jesus to come to Him.  And he answered it.  It was only when Peter took his eyes off Jesus that he began to sink rather than soar.

This Gospel teaches us that no matter how fierce the storm, to keep our eyes on Jesus.  We need to focus on our faith and not on our fears.

         Sometimes you just have to do something.  And Jesus gives us His blessed assurance:  “Take courage, it is I.  Do not be afraid…. Come.”

         Don’t be afraid to step out of the boat at Jesus’ invitation.  Just keep your eyes on Him.