Homily for the nineteenth Sunday of the year
Year A - Mt. 14:22-33


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"Then (after the multiplication of the loaves) Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.


"The boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, 'It is a ghost!' And they cried out for fear. But immediately he spoke to them, saying, 'Take heart, it is I; have no fear.' And Peter answered him, 'Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.' He said, 'Come.' So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, 'Lord, save me.' Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, 'O man of little faith, why did you doubt?' And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, 'Truly you are the Son of God.' "





Homily:


"Then (after the multiplication of the loaves) Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone."


Jesus has just multiplied the loaves for the first time. He has openly demonstrated his powers and manifested to his disciples that they should have great trust in God's Providence, which provides for all in all circumstances. Peter and his brothers in Christ were there: they took part in this surprising action of the Master, they themselves gave the multiplied loaves and fishes to the multitude! But when Jesus would no longer be with them, how would they react? Would Peter and the others preserve this trust in Providence? Although he already knows everything, since he is God, Jesus wants to make things clear: he will put his disciples to the test in order to see if they will remain faithful to him...


"The boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, 'It is a ghost!' And they cried out for fear."


All of us, great or small, have great things to accomplish for the Lord: we all must bear witness to our faith in God, the Savior of men, to all those whom the Lord has placed along our path. In particular, all of us are called to beget sons and daughters for the Lord: if we have children, we must do all we can to lead them to God and to raise them in accordance with this goal; if we do not have children, there are many men and women who await from us the Good News of Salvation!


We are all embarked on an adventure that is unprecedented and that will never return: that of the proclamation of the Word of God! Each day, we see the sun rise and then set. But each day nevertheless takes place at night, in the night of faith in which the only light comes from the Mother of us all, the Virgin Mary! For how can we properly raise our children, how can we propagate the Good News of Salvation, if She who is the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church does not help us with her precious counsel? How are we to sail upon the turbulent sea of this life if we do not fix our gaze upon the Morning Star?


So in order to test the faith of his disciples, Jesus walks upon the water... He goes to meet his disciples in the boat! It is not an apparition; Jesus simply goes to his disciples, but, contrary to the laws of nature, he walks on the water of the lake! Jesus thus performs a miracle. For this is what a miracle is: to go against the laws of nature, to make an exemption from the laws established by God in his creation of the universe. But, when faced with this miracle, the Lord's disciples did not react well: they took Jesus for a ghost, almost a hallucination of their mind...


"But immediately he spoke to them, saying, 'Take heart, it is I; have no fear.' And Peter answered him, 'Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.' He said, 'Come.' So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus."


Jesus tries to encourage his disciples and to chase away the fear from their spirit: "Take heart!" he says, "It is I; have no fear." This word of Jesus bears its fruits, for Peter will react. He felt within him the Holy Spirit, who led him to make the following request of his Master: "Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water!" Peter interiorly understood that something great was happening there, something that would profoundly mark him, in all his person. This is why he made such a request of Jesus: to be able to walk on water, like the Master, and to experience this phenomenon in his entire being! Truly, he would forever remember this event...


Peter obeys the order of the Lord, who tells him: "Come!" And Peter began to walk upon the waters of the lake! Put yourself in Peter's place for a moment, imagine that you are walking upon the waters of a lake, somewhere near where you live! For Peter, this was a reality. For you, it is just an image, but an image that has its full meaning! For if, one day, the Spirit of God came to speak to you interiorly, and if you asked yourself whether what you were hearing in your spirit is a moment of madness, or a deception of the devil, or truly the Word of God, you would perhaps react in the way Peter did and ask God for a sign that would allow you to believe that it is truly the Lord who speaks to you...


"But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, 'Lord, save me.' Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, 'O man of little faith, why did you doubt?' "


Before the wind's violence, Peter became afraid... and he doubted... This brought on the reproach of the Lord: "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?" Peter believed, Peter doubted... Peter believed, in order that we too might have the audacity to believe and to ask the Lord for a sign. Peter doubted in order that we might not ask God for unnecessary signs, for trifles, but rather only for what is absolutely necessary...


"And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, 'Truly you are the Son of God.' "


Jesus has just performed a great miracle! He makes Peter participate in his power over nature: the feet of the Apostle feel the waters flow like a liquid that is at once both very fluid and hard, hard as a block of stone! Truly, the Savior is there, with his disciples, in the boat, in that boat which is that of the life of those who believe in Christ the Son of God: "Truly you are the Son of God."


May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, who experienced in herself an even more prodigious sign, That of the coming of the Word into her womb, watch over each one of us and intercede for us before her Divine Son, He who will come upon the clouds of Heaven, just as he came upon the waves of the sea!




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