19th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
Today we get another demonstration of Jesus’ divine power. Today we hear that Jesus came to the apostles, walking on water. I don’t know if any of you have ever tried this, but it’s not too easy. Although I can tell you that I have seen my friend Fr. Mark Gurtner walk on water before. Or actually, his golf ball. I can’t tell you how many times he hits the ball right at a pond, lake, or stream. I will think he’s doomed, which is great for me, but then the ball just walks right on the water and ends up on land. I’ve seen him do this hundreds of times.
But, for the rest of us, walking on water simply isn’t possible. I wouldn’t advise anyone trying it. And yet, here’s Jesus, walking on water. It’s a marvelous and miraculous story. It’s one that helps us to grow in our faith. The apostles were witnesses to something amazing. Their reaction to the event is quite believable. The apostles were crying out in fear. So all this tells you that Jesus’ walking on water was a miraculous display of his divine power.
That aspect of the story alone would make this story a great one to help us grow in our faith. Put yourself in the boat, see Jesus walking toward you, let the story help you to realize that Christ is real, he’s God, he can do amazing things. Using the story this way would help us to turn to him in our own difficulties. I mean, he walked on water to get to the Apostles to help them out. So, don’t be afraid to call out to Jesus when going through the storms of life. He will come to you and help you out as well.
So, this story helps us to know that Jesus is God. But, what about St. Peter? I mean, Jesus walking on water is great, but he’s divine, he’s God. Peter is certainly not that. We know that Peter is purely human, a weak and sinful man. And yet, he too is walking on the water. Amazing. Of course, he is only able to do it by the power of Christ, but still he’s able to do it.
I think this is really important for us. It reminds us that we can really do amazing things. In fact, we can do things that are impossible for human beings, but we can only do them by the power of Christ.
Peter had no business walking on water; and yet he did it because of the power of Christ. I was thinking about our vocations in life. If you stop and think about it, don’t these things seem too hard for mere mortals like us? I’m a priest. I’m dedicated to the Church and have promised to live a life of celibacy. My job is to help everyone at St. Jude grow closer to Christ. My job is to lead you all to heaven. That’s a tall order. What about married life? A man and a woman entering into a covenant, united as one. You are called to live every day of your life as a witness to love by giving yourself completely for your spouse and your family. Doesn’t that seem like more than we are capable of doing. Single people: called to embrace a life of holiness. Living life in communion with God and others. Building up the kingdom by your work, your words, your witness. Doesn’t that seem like too much.
Yet, all of us have the courage to live out these vocations. Why? Because we have heard the voice of Christ: come follow me. This is the same voice that spoke to Peter: come out of the boat. Empowered by Christ, St. Peter walked on water. Empowered by Christ, we can do amazing things in our own lives as well.
But, and I think this is really important, Peter began to sink. Think about it this way. Is it really all that unusual that Peter sank? I mean, seriously, we should give the guy a break: he’s literally walking on water. This is something way beyond his abilities. So, I don’t think it’s shocking that he starts to sink. Still, he does the best thing he can do in that situation: Lord, save me.
Friends, you and I are called to amazing things. In fact, we are called to holiness, which is a vocation impossible on our own. Each and every one of us is out of the boat and we are called to walk on that water. But, if we start to sink. If sin, sadness, difficulties of any kind start to overwhelm us, we really shouldn’t be that surprised. A life of faith is an amazing thing beyond our natural abilities. So, we shouldn’t be that surprised that we might feel like we are sinking sometimes. That’s not the problem. Yet, what do we do about it? Lord, save me. St. Peter gives a terrific example.
Give it a try. It really works. The start to the school year is always a stressful time. I’ve been yelling out, “Lord save me” a lot this week. Put your trust in Christ. Call out to him when you feel like you’re sinking. Jesus will have you back to walking on water in no time.