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Sunday, August 9, 2020

Homily 2020-08-09 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 King 19:9, 11-13; Psalm 85; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:22-33
The Readings today show what prayer is. Elijah just defeated the prophets of Baal and Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him. Elijah ran away and arrived at Mt Horeb. He was angry because his life was in danger even after he won a decisive battle for God. The First Reading tells us the word of the Lord came to him, saying “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Elijah did and despite the display of power by the wind that split the mountains and break the rocks, despite the earthquake and fire, God was not there. Instead, Elijah wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave at the sound of sheer silence. He knew God was in the silence.
The Gospel today tells us the Apostles attempt to cross the sea the whole night but could not because the wind was against them. In the early morning, Jesus walks towards them on the sea. They thought he is a ghost. But Jesus says to them Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.
We often encounter situations that frustrate us, make us afraid or angry, sometimes, even angry at God. This is normal so there is no need to feel guilty about it. The important thing is to do what Elijah did: go beyond the anger and seek God, talk to him, tell him everything in our heart. Then wait for God to respond. And God will respond, very often in ways we do not expect. St Paul tells us in the Second Reading the Jews had everything to know God: the adoption as his people, the glory, the covenants, the Law, the worship, the promises, the patriarchs, and from them, the human nature of the Christ. Yet, they would not believe because they have their own idea on how God should act.
The display of power in the First Reading is a reminder of the signs of God’s presence: the wind split the Red Sea. The earthquake shook the mountains in the desert. The fire is the pillar that accompanied them in the desert. But Elijah knew God was not in these. Elijah sought God and not the manifestations of his power. We seek God in his own terms and when he comes, we go and face him.
The Gospel tells us in the midst of the wind and water, Jesus walks by. Hearing Jesus say Take heart, It is I do not be afraid, Peter said Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water. This prayer shows immense faith in Jesus even if what Peter asked is impossible. But Peter knows, the command of Jesus makes possible what is impossible. Jesus responds with one word: Come and with one word, Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on water. Prayer then is opening our hearts to permit God to command us to come to him.
The Son of God entered Creation to redeem it. Jesus enters our lives to redeem us, to raise us to new life with him. But he can only do this when we allow him. One way to do this is to repeat Peter’s prayer: Lord, command me to come to you on the waters. Command me to come to you even if it is impossible. Since it is God’s will for us to live with him for eternity, God answers this prayer and commands us with one word: Come. When we hear his command, we step out in faith believing what St Paul wrote in Romans 4:21 whatever God has promised, he is able also to perform.
Jesus tells Peter: Why did you doubt? The word doubt means to have two minds. Peter wanted to go to Jesus but also did not want to go to Jesus. This is why he started to sink. We will also be of two minds. Our desire to come to Jesus battles with our fear. When this happens, we call to Jesus like Peter: Lord, save me! And just as he did to Peter, Jesus will immediately reach out his hand and seizes us.
In the midst of this pandemic, of the uncertainties and chaos in our lives, God wants to reveal himself to us. We may be angry and frustrated or afraid but we go beyond all these and come to Jesus. Things may seem impossible, but with God, all things are possible. God calls us to a supernatural life that is fed by supernatural faith given by a supernatural God.
As our priest consecrates the bread and wine to the Body and Blood of Jesus, let us offer God our fears, frustrations, anger, sufferings knowing that however insurmountable they may seem, God can and will intervene. Let us tell Jesus Lord, command me to come to you even if it is impossible. And when we hear his command to come, we step out in faith so God can work mightily in our life, because the God and Father of Jesus Christ is the God who makes possible what is impossible. He leads us from what is natural to the supernatural. Take heart, Jesus is God. Do not be afraid.

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