Fr Dom's Homily
Year A 2020
Fr Dominic Orih
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today in our Gospel we listen to one of the most fascinating stories in the bible – Jesus walking on water. I said it was fascinating because in this story, not only did Jesus walk on water, Peter also walked on water. I must say that the significance of the story goes beyond walking on water to something much deeper.
Notice how the passage began with the fact that Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and went on ahead of him to the “other side”. After sending the crowds away and praying, he then went to meet them in the evening by walking on water.
Whenever Jesus is about to do something and he sends the disciples away to the other side, he is trying to help them move to the next level of consciousness or growth. It is a symbolic crossover to spiritual maturity where they will become aware of who they truly are in God; and how much God’s power could work through them if they can trust in that Divine power.
I believe this is what Peter experienced. When the disciples saw Jesus walking on water towards them to join them on the boat, they were terrified, and they thought he was a ghost. Jesus said to them, “Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid” (a statement that apparently appeared 365 times in the bible, telling us we could use one for each day throughout the year). Peter wanted to make sure it was Jesus and he asked Jesus to tell him to come across to him on water. It is at this time that Jesus invited him to come. And Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on water.
This is powerful, because Peter walking on water levelled the ground for the disciples watching. All these times, they have seen themselves as mere disciples looking up to their Rabbi, their Master – Jesus. And for Jesus to invite one of them – Peter, to do what he was doing, which is walking on water, Jesus simply made it clear that they too can do what he has done. This is the message he has been trying to get across to them with all the miracles and teachings he has been doing. It is the very message he gave them shortly before he ascended into heaven when he said, “You can do greater things that I have done.”
Peter was able to walk on water because he looked up to Jesus, he focused on the one who invited him to “Come”. To come is the openness of heart to step into the unknown, the terrifying, the unfamiliar, the extraordinary, the abnormal. Every day God speaks to us saying “Come!” There is more to life that just sitting around and wallowing in self-pity. There’s more to life than comparing yourself and your worth with others or what they have. There’s more to life than just dying in self-belief and doubt. There’s more to life than being paralysed by fear.
Peter stepped out of the known into the unknown and he was able to do something that he normally wouldn’t have thought he was capable of doing, through the power of God working in him. He only began to sink in the water that he was walking on before because he started looking at the waves blowing hard and the tumult that it caused. He lost his focus on Jesus. The thing is, the waves are always going to be blowing hard and the tumult will always be growing louder if you focus on them. Whenever we lose our trust in the God who can do more than we could ever imagine in our lives and start looking at ourselves or looking at the waves of comparison that our society is steeped into, we will start sinking.
There are many ways we can start sinking in life; by comparing ourselves to other people, it is like focusing on the waves instead of Jesus; by focusing on ourselves that we can do it with our power and strength without Divine help (this is the gospel of the so called self-made and self-help propagandists); and by believing that the tumults of life are stronger that the voice and the power of God who invites us to “Come!” and experience life out of the ordinary.
When Peter started sinking and he asked Jesus to save him, that should be our response to life when we are sinking, Lord, help me. Jesus helped him and asked him why he lost faith. To have faith is to simply trust. It goes beyond believing all the right things as many of us thought. It simply means to trust in the God whose power is working through you and in you.
So may you my dear brothers and sisters learn how to trust the Divine voice that invites you to step out of the deadening way of life, the sterile, static way of living, and step into the unknown, the adventurous and the terrifying yet exhilarating dynamic new way of living, so that you could experience a life like never before. And as you do so, may you my dear friend, like Peter, walk on water. Amen.
And may God bless you!