WEEKEND HOMILY
© Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church 2010




Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 13, 2017

 
 
In our faith, if anyone is up to a challenge, it is God.  Even though we should never think of challenging God, when life becomes tense and we are frustrated, that is exactly what we do when we say things like, “God, what else can happen?”  If we want to know what other difficulties can occur in our lives, ask God to show us.  It’s not a good idea, but that is what we are doing when we challenge God to show us what else can happen, but what this also says, is rather than put our faith in God to keep us safe and secure, we are putting our trust in the idea and the reality that something can and will go wrong instead, and given the option of things going well, or going wrong, it is better to focus on the positive and pray that we don’t meet any new challenges, but that we simply live in the peace and gratitude of God’s love for us. 
In the Gospel for this weekend, Saint Peter is facing just this kind of situation.  Jesus and the Apostles have been busy proclaiming the message of salvation and so, many people have been following them from place to place, and in order to not be crushed by the crowds, Jesus must sometimes stand in the boat on the shore where it is safer.  
After one of these encounters, Jesus then sends the Apostles ahead of Him to other side of the sea so that He might retreat into the mountains to be alone in prayer.  When He is finished, He then decides to catch up to the Apostles but since they have the boat, He decides to approach them on foot.  
It is with this thought in mind that we get into the imagery of the Gospel where, in order for Jesus to catch up with the disciples, He simply walks across the surface of the water.  The wind is blowing, the waves are high and the disciples are already on edge because of the danger they are in because of the storm and so when Jesus appears to them, this only heightens their fear and they think that on top of everything else, they are seeing a ghost.  
Despite the fear that he feels, Peter has his wits about him enough to realize that this could indeed be Jesus, but that rather than run the risk of being deceived, he calls to Jesus and tests this encounter by asking for something he knows only Jesus could do, and that is to grant him the ability to walk on the water as well.  In faith, he steps out of the boat and, with his focus on Jesus, begins to walk on the water while the wind and the waves roar all around him.   
In this next moment though, Peter loses his focus and instead of keeping his eyes and faith fixed on Jesus, he notices instead the wind, the waves and the peril he is in and begins to sink into the waves, at which point, instinctively he calls out to Jesus to save him.  It is in this moment of trial and fear that the Lord extends His hand and saves Peter from the weakness of his misplaced faith and says to him, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?”   
Just as we all sometimes misplace our faith in God when things become difficult and we focus on the things that can wrong rather than seek the blessings of God and the things that can go right, following this example of Saint Peter, it is a reminder that our focus should always be on Jesus and not on the difficult moments of life.  
Trial and adversity can cause us to doubt.  Fear and heartache can cause us to misplace our faith and turn our focus to the storms of life, and when that happens, like St. Peter, we find ourselves sinking into the waves of our problems and allow them to overwhelm us and cause us to forget that God is our help and our sure protection. 
Jesus asked Peter why he doubted, but Peter doubted when he took his focus from Jesus and instead only saw trouble, fear and the storm around him.  In our faith, let the storms of life blow, but that we might not let them harm us, let us stay focused on Christ, our Savior, our Hope and our Sure Protection.  
 
 
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