Introduction: The readings for this week speak of God’s saving presence among His people, our need for trusting Faith in our loving and providing God who always keeps us company, and our need for prayer in storms of life. (An anecdote may be added).
Scripture lessons: The first reading tells us of how Elijah the prophet who had defeated the 450 false priests of Baal with the help of just such a trusting Faith in the power of Yahweh, fled to the Lord God for help and strength on Mt Horeb, and encountered Him there in His mercy. In the second reading, Paul laments and mourns over the Jews who, having lost their Faith in Yahweh and His prophets, had rejected their promised Messiah, Jesus. Paul tells us later (11:7-24), that God’s plan allowed the Jews to reject Jesus so that a few believers, like Paul, would be free to carry the Good News outside Judaism, evangelizing the Gentiles. The Gospel episode occurred during an unexpected storm on the Sea of Galilee in the early morning hours. As Jesus approached the apostles, miraculously walking on water, he allayed their fears by telling them, “It is I.” The Gospel episode also explains how Peter lost his trusting Faith in Jesus for a few seconds, failed his attempt to walk on water, but was rescued when he called on Jesus for help.
Life messages: 1) We all need to call Jesus in the storms facing us in the Church and in our lives. Let us approach Jesus with strong Faith in his ability and willing availability to calm the storms in the life of the Church and in our own lives. Church history shows us how Jesus saved his Church from the storms of persecution in the first three centuries, from the storms of heresies in the 5th and 6th centuries, from the storms of moral degradation and the Protestant reformation movement (later resulting in hundreds of denominations), in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the storms of sex abuse scandals of the clergy in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We need to realize that it is the presence of Jesus which gives us peace even in the wildest storms of life: the storms of anxiety and worries about the future we are suffering now in the ongoing Corona Virus Pandemic (Corvid-19), storms of sorrow, storms of doubt, tension and uncertainty, storms of anger and despair, storms of temptations, and storms in family relationships. But this peace flows only from a personal relationship with God, with Jesus, enhanced through prayer, meditative reading of Scripture and active participation in the Holy Mass and reception of the Sacraments when these are available to us.
2) We need to imitate the short prayer of sinking Peter: We are expected to pray to God every day with trusting Faith for strengthening our personal relationship with Him and for acknowledging our dependence on Him. But when we have no time or mental energy for formal prayers, let us use the short prayers in the Gospels like Peter’s prayer: “Lord, save me!” or the prayer of the mother of the possessed girl: “Lord, help me!” or the blind man’s prayer: “Son of David, have mercy on me!” or the repentant sinner’s prayer: “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner!” We get plenty of time during our travels to say the short prayers like the “Our Father”, “Hail Mary” and “Glory be….” We may begin every day offering all our day’s activities to God and asking for His grace to do His will; then we may conclude every day before we go to sleep, by asking God’s pardon and forgiveness for our sins. Keeping a Bible on our table will encourage us to read at least a few words of the Bible and thus listen to what God is telling us to do.
OT XIX [A] (Aug 9) 1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-13a; Rom 9:1-5; Mt 14:22-33
Homily starter anecdotes 1): An old story about trustful Faith: In the middle of a dark winter’s night in a small Midwest farming community, the two-story home of a young family caught fire. Quickly, parents and children followed their well-practiced emergency plan and made their way through the smoke-filled home out into the front yard. There the father quickly counted heads and realized that their 5-year-old son was not among them. Suddenly he heard a wail and looked up to see the boy at his bedroom window, crying and rubbing his eyes. Knowing the danger of reentering the house to rescue his son, the father called, “Jump, Son! I’ll catch you!” Between sobs, the boy responded to the voice he knew so well. “But I can’t see you, Daddy!” The father answered with great assurance. “No, Son, you can’t see me, but I can see you! Jump!” At that, the boy jumped into the smoky darkness and found himself safely cradled in his father’s arms. Our Scripture readings for today are about trusting – about having Faith – about being able to discern the fact that our God is always with us, even in storms of life. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
2): Elizabeth Blackwell walked on water: (https://youtu.be/dLKDMe52O3c) For Elizabeth Blackwell “walking on water” meant something entirely different. Elizabeth Blackwell was born on February 3, 1821, in Bristol, England. As a girl, she moved with her family to the United States, where she first worked as a teacher. Elizabeth wanted to become a doctor in the 1840s. At the time, medical schools were only for men. Elizabeth Blackwell had to fight just to get in. Finally, at one school, Geneva College of Medicine in New York, the students voted to let her in as a joke. But the head of the school didn’t know it was supposed to be a joke, and he let her in. When she got there, the students made fun of her. They refused to share their notes with her. Some professors tried to keep her out of their classes. She refused to give up. In 1849, she graduated at the head of her class. When no hospital would allow her to practice, she opened her own hospital. Then she opened a medical school to train women. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Blackwell) Elizabeth Blackwell courageously got out of the boat and walked on the roaring waters of opposition and gender discrimination in the medical profession. Today’s Gospel tells us how Peter the apostle tried to walk on water and failed because of his weak Faith in Jesus. (https://youtu.be/j-Vpxb6A6XI) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
3): A Birthday Joke for My Friends Walking on Water: Johnny had long heard the stories of an amazing 21st Birthday family tradition, retold several times by his grandmother. His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had all been able to walk on water on their 21st birthday. On that special day, they had each walked across the lake to the bar on the far side, for their first legal drink. So, when Johnny‘s 21st birthday came around, he and his friend Jill took a boat out to the middle of the lake, Johnny stepped out of the boat, and nearly drowned! Jill just barely managed to pull him to safety. Furious and confused, Johnny went to see his grandmother. “Grandma,” he said, ‘it’s my 21st birthday, so why can’t I walk across the lake like my father, his father, and his father before him?” Granny looked deeply into Johnny‘s troubled eyes and answered, “Because your father, your grandfather, and your great-grandfather were born in January, when the lake is frozen, and you were born in July. Link: http://academictips.org/funny-jokes/funny-birthday-jokes/
4) Joni survived the storm in her life: (https://youtu.be/4fzY0uj9q6k) Mark Link tells the inspiring story of a 17-year-old girl named Joni Eareckson, who like all teenagers her age was full of vitality, vigor and promise. Her favorite sport was horse-back riding, and in every completion her performance was so very impressive that her prospects for the future kept rising both noticeably and dramatically. One hot afternoon in July, Joni went for a swim in Chesapeake Bay and there tragedy struck. On one particular dive, she sustained such a severe injury to her head that she was instantly knocked unconscious and rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment. And there the worst fears of her loved ones were confirmed. Joni would be a quadriplegic for the rest of her life. The months ahead were an absolute nightmare, with just no light at the end of the tunnel. The once graceful rider, who delighted crowds with her performances, would lie strapped to a Stryker frame. And for much of her time she would lie with her face down, looking at nothing but the floor. That is when she had a spiritual experience. As Joni lay strapped in her Stryker frame, she thought of Jesus nailed to the cross. He was God yet He was totally powerless and helpless. And she adds, “I pictured Jesus standing by my Stryker frame and saying to me, “Don’t lose heart, Joni, for I am with you and will help you to achieve the impossible.” Even as she lay there a curious thought crossed Joni’s mind. She could attempt painting if she could hold a painting brush between her teeth. And that is precisely what she did- so successfully and admirably that she is author of two best-sellers –one being autobiographical and entitled Joni –and has played the lead role in a movie of her own life. This inspiring story aptly demonstrates what Jesus can do in the life of any and every individual, if we let him. This precisely is what Joni did in her absolute helplessness. But with Faith in the Almighty Power and the never-failing help of the Lord Jesus, she was able to achieve the impossible. [J. Valladares in Your Words O Lord, are Spirit, and They Are Life (https://youtu.be/WiygoMpCNms)] (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
Introduction: The readings for this week speak of God’s saving presence for His people and the need for trusting faith in a loving and providing God Who always keeps us company. The first reading tells us of how Elijah the prophet who had defeated the 450 false priests of Baal with the help of just such a trusting Faith in the power of Yahweh (then had to flee for his life), encountered the Lord God on Horeb. In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 85), the Psalmist assures us, “Near indeed is His Salvation to those who fear Him, glory dwelling in our land.” In the second reading, Paul laments and mourns over the Jews who, having lost their Faith in Yahweh and His prophets, had rejected their promised Messiah, Jesus. The Gospel episode explains how Peter lost his trusting Faith in Jesus for a few seconds, failed his attempt to walk on water, but was rescued when he called on Jesus for help.
The first reading (1 Kg 19:9, 11-13) explained: After Solomon’s death (922 BC), the northern tribes broke away from Judah, from its priests and from the Temple in Jerusalem. They formed an independent country they called Israel, centered in the city of Samaria. As years rolled by, many of these Jews lost their Faith in Yahweh. Their seventh king Ahab (869-850 BC) married Jezebel, the daughter of the pagan king of Tyre. He allowed her to build a temple for her god Baal, then encouraged, and himself took part in, idol-worship and immorality. The prophet Elijah was sent by Yahweh to Israel to bring His people back to true worship. Elijah’s trusting Faith in the power and presence of Yahweh enabled him to defeat and execute the 450 pagan priests of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kgs. 18:16-40). Consequently, Queen Jezebel sent murderous henchmen after the prophet. Elijah, sustained by food provided by God through an angel, fled for forty days and nights. He finally reached Horeb, the mountain where God had earlier established His covenant with Israel under Moses. Elijah might have expected a spectacular miracle from God to protect and vindicate him, or an appearance of God with great power in thunder and lightning to bolster his Faith, like the one Moses had been granted on that very spot (Exodus 19:16-19). However, the presence of God was not in the spectacles of thunder, earthquake or fire but in “a tiny whispering sound.” Elijah acknowledged God’s presence by covering his face and coming out of the cave where he had taken shelter. He was content with God’s quiet sign of His presence, and was consoled, trusting that his God was helping and protecting him. Like Elijah, we can miss God’s presence by limiting our experience of Him to certain places and persons and forgetting that He is everywhere. The first reading reminds us that we have to experience God’s presence in our lives and listen carefully to everything going on around us, because we encounter God in insignificant as well as spectacular events. Failure, as well as success, offers us the opportunity for growth in trusting Faith in a loving and providing God.
The second reading (Rom 9:1-5) explained: In the first eight chapters of his letter to the Romans, Paul describes the blessings which Christ the Messiah, as the fulfillment of “the Law and the prophets,” brought to mankind. Deeply moved, Paul (in today’s second reading), cries out in passionate grief for his countrymen, the Jews, because as a nation they have refused to see Christ as the Messiah promised to them by God through their patriarchs and prophets and thus though still His Chosen People, have not been the ones to bring the Messiah to the world and the world to the Messiah in the present form of the Kingdom of God on Earth. Paul tells us later (11: 7-24), that God’s plan allowed for the Jews’ rejection of Jesus; He supplied a few of the Chosen People who became believers in Jesus Christ, the Messiah (like Saul of Tarsus, Pharisee who became Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles), to carry the Good News outside Judaism and to evangelize the Gentiles. The result would be the salvation of the whole world and the reconciliation of the Jews and the Gentiles – blessings even greater than the election of Israel still in suspension. Thus, the ancient promise of God to Abraham would not go unfulfilled. Our first reaction should be a fervent “Thank You, God!” for the true Faith we have received and embraced. Our second thought should be to ask the good God, with trusting Faith, to send the light of Faith to the descendants of Abraham, and to re-light it among those Gentiles who have extinguished it. It is not enough for a true Christian that he should live his own life according to the laws of Christ. True charity demands that he be seriously interested in the spiritual welfare of his neighbors. Paul knew that Jesus suffered and died for all humanity – past, present and future. Christ’s redemptive, thus, was redemptive suffering. So, when we offer our own sufferings to Christ then they, too, somehow become redemptive for others. Herein lies the power of all our intercessory prayer. Through the Church (the Body of Christ), all who suffer – whether Christian or not – are embraced by Christ who makes their suffering his own. As Pope John Paul II taught, in that unity of suffering with Christ, even the suffering of non-Christians is somehow contributing to the world’s redemption (Salvifici Doloris, 24).
Gospel exegesis: The context: Today’s lesson, the account of Jesus’ walking on the Sea of Galilee, is one of the best-known passages in the New Testament. It forms a narrative bridge between the Jewish and Gentile portions of Jesus’ ministry, as well as giving us a theologically rich story about Jesus in its own right. In Matthew’s Gospel, the story follows the rejection of Jesus in his hometown of Nazareth (13:54-58), the death of John the Baptist (14:1-12), and the feeding of the five thousand (14:13-21). It precedes the account of his healing of the sick at Gennesaret (14:34-36) and his confrontation with the Jewish authorities over the nature of tradition (15:1-9). In addition to being a collection of miracle stories (feeding, walking, healing), the stories also form a complex of narratives which, when taken together, speak about both those who recognized in Jesus the One promised by Israel’s religious tradition and those whose doubts or vested interests had blinded them to the miraculous power in their midst. “In Matthew’s inspired theology, the Divine Presence in human history unfolds in three stages: (1) God forms the people of Israel and remains with them in good times and bad; (2) in fulfillment of the Divine promise transmitted by the prophets, Jesus, the Messiah and Iincarnate Son of God, is present among his people as their savior; (3) in these last days, the Risen Lord, through his disciples, is present to extend his saving mission beyond his particular historical time and land to all nations.” The one constant in the drama of the Divine Presence in history is the necessity of human response to the saving presence with total trust. (Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B.)
The challenge of trusting Faith: Jesus’ walking on the water follows the miraculous feeding in Matthew, Mark, and John. However, the account of Peter’s walking on the water is found only in Matthew. Thus, Matthew’s retelling of this event also says something about Peter and his Faith. While we might emphasize Peter’s fear, his sinking and his “little” Faith, we need to look also at his leap of Faith. Peter represents all who dare to believe that Jesus is Savior, take their first steps in confidence that Jesus is able to sustain them, and then forget to keep their gaze fixed on him when they face storms of temptations. From the depth of crisis, however, they remember to call on the Savior, and they experience the total sufficiency of his grace to meet their needs. It is this type of “little Faith” of Peter which Jesus later identifies as the rock on which he will build his Church. The only Faith Jesus expects of his followers is a Faith which concentrates solely on Him. In other words, when we simply heed Our Lord, we can do great things. So, with His grace, we have to raise our awareness of God’s presence in our lives. As we become more aware, we will step out and proclaim that presence, even in surprising places.
Assertion of Christ’s Divinity: Since there are number of passages in the Hebrew Scriptures that speak of God walking on the sea (e.g., Job 9:8; Hb 3:15; Ps 77:19), it has been argued that this is a theophany: Jesus revealing Himself to his disciples as God by proving his mastery over the sea, considered by the ancients to be an unruly chaos inhabited by evil spirits. In Jewish folklore, only God could walk on the water, but human beings cannot see God and live. Therefore, if a person thinks he sees someone walking on the water, it must be a ghost! Besides, there was also a superstition that there were monsters at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee and likely that played into their alarm as well. And the way to get rid of ghosts is to shout and scream. This is exactly what the disciples did until Jesus told them, “Take courage; it is I.” Then those in the boat worshipped Jesus and proclaimed him to be truly the Son of God. There are aspects of this story that suggest a post-Easter event described in John 21:1-14, where the risen Jesus is at first unrecognized. Then, when the disciples know who he is, Peter jumps out of the boat and swims to Jesus. When the disciples get to shore, Jesus takes bread and fish – the same elements that appear in the feeding story before our text (Mt 14:13-21) – and gives them a meal. The only other occurrence of the disciples’ worshiping Jesus takes place on the mountain after the resurrection (Mt 28:17).
Assurance of hope in the midst of persecutions: “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Matthew recorded his Gospel after Peter was crucified, when the Christians were being persecuted. The two storm stories address issues of danger, fear, and Faith. In both stories, the boat seems to represent the Church, buffeted by temptations, trials and persecutions. In both, Jesus appears as the Church’s champion, strong to save those who call on him in Faith. The recounting of this episode probably brought great comfort to the early Christians, especially those of Matthew’s Faith community. For it offered them the assurance that Christ would save them even if they had to die for their Faith in him, and that, even in the midst of persecution, they need not fear because Jesus was present with them. The episode offers the same reassurance to us in times of illness, death, persecution, or other troubles. It teaches us that adversity is not a sign of God’s displeasure, nor prosperity a sign of His pleasure, that illness is not a sign of inadequate Faith, nor health a sign of great Faith. Paradoxically, the storms of life can be a means of blessing. When things are going badly, our hearts are more receptive to Jesus. A broken heart is often a door through which Christ can find entry. He still comes to us in the midst of our troubles, saying, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” If we permit the chaos and evil around us to distract and influence us, then we will sink into the very chaos that we fear! On the other hand, if we keep our focus on the Source of our safety, our salvation, the One to whom we call out to save us, then the winds die down, and we are once again content in the Presence of the Lord. This is the way we increase or sustain our Faith: by never doubting that the Presence of the Lord is with us every single moment of our lives! Our Catechism reminds us that when we cry out “Lord!” we express our recognition of the Divine Mystery of Jesus., and also shows our respect and trust in the One we approach for help and healing (CCC #448).
Life messages: 1) We need to call Jesus in the storms facing the Church and our lives. Let us approach Jesus with strong Faith in his ability and willing availability to calm the storms in the life of the Church and in our lives. Church history shows us how Jesus saved his Church from the storms of persecution in the first three centuries, from the storms of heresies in the 5th and 6th centuries, from the storms of moral degradation and the Protestant reformation movement in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and from the storms of sex abuse scandals of the clergy in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It is the presence of Jesus which gives us peace even in the wildest storms of life: the storms of anxiety and worries about the future we are suffering now in the ongoing Corona Virus Pandemic (Corvid-19), storms of sorrow, storms of doubt, tension and uncertainty, storms of anxiety and worries, storms of anger and despair, storms of temptations. Storms reveal to us our inability to save ourselves and point us to the Infinite ability and eagerness of God to save us. When Jesus shows up in our life’s storms, we find that we gain strength to do the seemingly impossible. For example, when Jesus shows up, he makes marriages out of mistakes, he invigorates, restores, and empowers us to reach the unreachable, to cross the un-crossable. Storms let us know that without him we can do nothing, without him we are doomed to fail. Yet, when Jesus shows up, we gain the strength to join Paul, saying, “In Christ I can do all things.” But this demands a personal relationship with God, with Jesus, enhanced through prayer, meditative study of Scripture and an active Sacramental life. Experiencing Jesus’ presence in our lives, let us confess our Faith in him and call out for his help and protection always.
2) We need to imitate the short prayer of sinking Peter: We are expected to pray to God every day with trusting Faith for the strengthening of our personal relationship with Him and for the courage and humility to acknowledge our complete dependence on Him for everything. But when we have no time or mental energy for formal prayers, let us use the short prayers in the Gospels, like Peter’s prayer: “Lord, save me!” or the prayer of the mother of the possessed girl: “Lord, help me!” or the blind man’s prayer: “Son of David, have mercy on me!” or the sinner’s prayer: “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner!” We get plenty of time during our travels to say the short prayers like the “Our Father”, “Hail Mary” and “Glory be….” We may begin every day offering all our day’s activities to God and asking for His grace to do His will and we may conclude every day before we go to sleep, by asking God’s pardon and forgiveness for our sins. Keeping a Bible on our table will encourage us to read at least a few words of the Bible and thus listen to what God is saying to us.
3) We should not limit God’s saving presence: There are those who would limit God’s presence for their own comfort or security or to keep themselves in power. In years past there were those who would deny God’s presence in slaves. There have been those who would ignore God’s presence in their enemies. There are those who would refuse to believe that God is present in the murderer sitting on death row, in those who are marginalized by our society: the gay person, the addict, the person living with AIDS, the illegal alien, the handicapped. It is in situations like these that we have to get out of the boat, surprise others, and show them the reflection of God in such people. Let us always look for ways to be surprised by our God and opportunities to wake one another up to the beauty, the power and the nearness of our loving, providing and protecting God. Let us also pray for a deepening of God’s gift of Faith within us, that we may be able to recognize Him in the ordinary situations of our lives, and humbly pray to Him saying, “Lord, let us see Your kindness, and grant us Your salvation.”
JOKE OF THE WEEK
# 1: Familiar story. In one of his books, Mark Twain recalls a visit to the Holy Land and a stay in Capernaum. It was a moonlit night, so he decided to take his wife on a romantic boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Twain asked a man in a rowboat how much he would charge to take them out on the water. The man saw Twain’s white suit, white shoes and white hat and supposed he was a rich Texan. So, he said the cost would be twenty-five dollars. Twain walked away as he said, “Now I know why Jesus walked on water.”
2) Ministers walking on water! There’s an old joke about three pastor friends who are on a beach together. The first, a Catholic priest gets up from his beach towel and walks about a quarter mile out to a raft in the ocean. The second, a Protestant minister, does the same. The third, a rabbi, the newcomer in the group, gets up and walks toward the raft to join his colleagues. Suddenly he finds himself underwater. The priest turns to the minister and says, “Didn’t you tell him where the rocks are?”
3) “Have Faith my child”: For the umpteenth time Mrs. Youngston came to her pastor to tell him, “I’m so scared! Joe says he’s going to kill me if I continue to come to your Church.” “Yes, yes, my child,” replied the pastor, more than a little tired of hearing this over and over. “I will continue to pray for you, Mrs. Youngston. Have Faith – the Lord will watch over you.” “Oh yes, He has kept me safe thus far, only…..” “Only what, my child?” “Well, now Joe says if I keep coming to your church, he’s going to kill YOU!” “Well, now,” said the pastor, “Perhaps it’s time for you to check out that little parish on the other side of town.”
4) A priest of little Faith and big ambitions: A Jewish rabbi and his friend a Catholic priest were traveling together in a train and it being a long journey they started to talk.
Rabbi : So what’s your next move, padre?
Priest : Well, if I’m lucky I might get a parish of my own
Rabbi : And then?
Priest : Well perhaps I’ll be made a Monsignor and maybe even a Bishop!
Rabbi : And after that?
Priest : Well I suppose, it’s just possible that I could become a Cardinal
Rabbi : Yes, and what after that?
Priest : Well, it’s ridiculous to think about it. But I suppose I could become Pope!
Rabbi : And then?
Priest : Well that’s it, Pope! There’s only God after that.
Rabbi : Well, you never know. After all one of our Jewish boys from Nazareth, made it! (Source: Jewish Jokes “with no blasphemy intended”)
WEBSITES OF THE WEEK
- Bible base of Catholic teaching: http://www.catholic.com & http://socrates58.blogspot.com/
- Where is that in the Bible? http://www.catholicbible101.com/thebible73or66books.htm https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=0Kx-7ijJmJo
- Jesus calming the sea: YouTube presentation: click below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=yyzwCpofQSA
- Video Sunday-Scripture study by Fr. Geoffrey Plant: https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066
22- Additional anecdotes:
1) Called or Not, God is Present. Above the office door of the Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung (1875-1961), hung a stone plaque inscribed with the words: “Called or Not, God is Present.” Jung’s sign encapsulated in a few words what the joint testaments of Judaism and Christianity have put forth in hundreds of thousands of words for centuries, viz., that the Transcendent Almighty God chooses to be with humankind, to commune with us, to love and move among us, to be near, to abide, to be present whether called or not, in peace, as well as in panic. The real question is not, “Is God absent from us.” Rather the real question is: “Are we absent from God?” This Sunday’s first reading relates the experience of the prophet Elijah who sought and realized the presence of God in the peaceful silence of Horeb (Sinai). Peter and the disciples (Gospel) experienced the presence of God in the person of Jesus whose power over the sea calmed their panic and fostered their Faith. Paul, in the second reading, taken from Romans, lamented the fact that not all of his fellow Israelites had come to know the saving presence of God as he had, on the road to Damascus. (Patricia Datchuck Sánchez). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
2)There seems to be no limit to our fears. In a Peanuts cartoon strip Charlie Brown goes to Lucy for a nickel’s worth of psychiatric help. She proceeds to pinpoint his particular fear. “Perhaps,” she says, “you have hypengyophobia,” (the fear of responsibility). Charlie Brown says, “No.” “Well, perhaps you have ailurophobia,” (the fear of cats). “No.” “Well, maybe you have climacophobia,” (the fear of staircases). ”No.” Exasperated, Lucy says, “Well, maybe you have pantophobia,” (the fear of everything). “Yes,” says Charlie, “that’s the one!’ Sometimes we feel we are afraid of everything. We are tossed by storms of fear. We are afraid of ourselves. We are afraid of people. We are afraid of the future. We are afraid of our past. We are afraid of life. We are afraid of death. Peter knows that the Lord can sustain him. Even in the midst of the storm, when there is nothing but uncertainty, He will take care of us. But I want you to know that Faith is a risk-taking enterprise. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
3)“I have Faith in the Lord, and He will save me.” (A story about presumptuous Faith). A man named Smith climbed upon the roof of his riverside house during a flood, confident that his God would save him miraculously. When the flood waters had covered his feet a neighbor in his canoe paddled past and shouted, “Can I give you a lift to a higher ground?” “No, thanks,” said Smith. “I have Faith in the Lord and He will save me.” Soon the water had risen to Smith’s waist. At this point a motor-boat pulled up and someone invited him to get into the boat and escape. But Mr. Smith adamantly refused the offer declaring his Faith in the saving power of his God. Later when Smith was standing on the roof with water up to his neck somebody from a helicopter dropped a rope and the pilot yelled at him, “Grab the rope before the water currents push you down.” “No, thanks,” said Smith. “I have Faith in the Lord and He will save me.” But after a while Mr. Smith lost his grip on the roof, fought for his life for a time and finally drowned. As he arrived at the Pearly Gates, he met God and launched a complaint about this turn of events. “Tell me, Lord,” he said, “I had such Faith in You to save me and You let me down. Why? It was not fair.” The Lord replied, “What did you expect Me to do? I sent a canoe, a motor-boat and a helicopter to save you.” (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
4)“Stop!”: A woman is walking down the street when she hears a voice shout, “Stop!” And she stops, and a piece of metal falls from space just in front of her–perhaps debris from a satellite. If she had gone one step farther, she would have been killed. She looks around to find the person who saved her life and sees no one. A few days later she is about to cross a street and she hears the same voice boom, “Stop!” And a car, out of control, zooms by in front of her–missing her by inches. She looks around again for the source of the strange but life-saving voice. She sees no one, but this time she hears a voice. “Do you know who I am?” the voice asks. “No, I don’t,” she answers. “I am your guardian angel,” says the voice. “I am here to protect you from harm.” Instead of voicing her gratitude, the woman was indignant. “There’s just one thing I want to know,” she said, “Where were you when I got married?” All of us take risks. We would never have anything if we did not. No new relationships would be formed. No new businesses would be started. No new homes would be built. Helen Keller got it right when she said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky put it this way, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” Mark Twain waxed poetic when he wrote: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Today’s Gospel describes how Peter takes a risk by stepping into the sea to walk upon water. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
5) What is she/he doing but walking on water? I’ll bet every one of us this morning can think of some remarkable water-walkers we have known. We all have watched simple, straight-forward, hard-working men and women, little toddlers and tormented teens, the shut-in elders and the shut-out homeless, perform acts in their lives that defy the limitations of the world in which they live. The chemotherapy patient who gets out of bed, puts on clean clothes and picks up around the house, before going for treatment . . . What is he or she doing but walking on water? The homeless woman who sleeps in a box, gleans food from dumpsters, but still smiles a greeting and laughs at a joke . . . What is she doing but walking on water? The single parent, overworked, overwhelmed, over-extended in time, money, and energy, who makes it to soccer games and school plays and checks to see that homework is done . . . What is that harried parent doing but walking on water? The octogenarian who lives alone, whose family has forgotten him, who counts the postal carrier and the water-meter reader as “company,” but still is up and dressed by 8am and sits at the table for all his meals . . . What is he doing but walking on water? There are people here this morning who are walking on water. You may not know who they are, and the difficulties they’re facing . . . but I can tell you as their pastor (and I don’t know all the stories represented here this morning, but enough to speak with conviction) . . . I’m looking out now at people who are walking on water. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
6) “Staring at that cross, I realized that therein lies freedom.” Alexander Solzhenitsyn was the first author to alert the West to the horrible realities he had experienced in Stalin’s Gulags — labor camps. Solzhenitsyn said that only once during his long imprisonment in a labor camp in the Soviet Union did he become so discouraged that he thought about suicide. He was outdoors, on a work detail, and he had reached a point where he no longer cared whether he lived or died. When he had a break, he sat down, and a stranger sat beside him, someone he had never seen before and would never see again. For no apparent reason, this stranger took a stick and drew a cross on the ground. Solzhenitsyn sat and stared at that cross for a long while. He later wrote, “Staring at that cross, I realized that therein lies freedom.” At that point – in the midst of a storm – he received new courage and the will to live. The storm didn’t end that day, but through Jesus, Solzhenitsyn found the strength to ride it out. I don’t know what storm of life will come your way this week, or what storm you may be enduring at this very moment. But I know this: even as the storm rages around you, if you will listen very carefully with your heart, you will hear a gentle voice calling to you, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” And in time the storm will pass. And Jesus will still be there. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
7) Henri Nouwen’s Little River story: Once upon a time there was a little river that said, “I can become a big river.” It worked hard to get big, but in the process, encountered a huge rock. “I won’t let this rock stop me,” the river said. And the little river pushed and pushed until it finally made its way around the rock. Next the river encountered a mountain. “I won’t let this mountain stop me,” the river said. And the little river pushed and pushed until it finally carved a canyon through the mountain. The river, now large and powerful, finally arrived at the edge of a vast desert. “I won’t let this desert stop me,” the river said. But as the river pushed and pushed its way across the desert, the hot sand began soaking up its water until only a few puddles remained. The river was quiet. Then the river heard a voice from above. “My child, stop pushing. It’s time to surrender. Let me lift you up. Let me take over.” The river said, “Here I am.” The sun then lifted the river up and turned it into a huge cloud. And the wind carried the river across the desert and let it rain down on the hills and valleys of the faraway fields, making them fruitful and rich. If we stay focused on Christ, having more Faith in Him than in ourselves, obeying His will even when it’s hard, no obstacle will be too much for us, and he will make our lives more fruitful than we could ever imagine. (E-Priest). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
8) General George Patton can walk on water: General George Patton’s soldiers were in awe of him. A member of General Marshall’s staff once asked a second lieutenant under Patton’s command if he believed that General Patton could walk on water. The lieutenant replied, “Colonel, I know General Patton! If he had to walk on water, he would figure out a way and within twenty-four hours he would have me doing it as well!” Such stories are part of our national folklore. But they’re all in fun. Nobody takes them seriously. Because, let’s face it, people can’t walk on water. At least, ordinary people. And that is exactly the point of this story from Matthew’s Gospel: JESUS IS NO ORDINARY MAN, AND THE EFFECT HE CAN HAVE ON THE LIVES OF THOSE WHO TRUST HIM IS DRAMATIC. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
9) Sarah was focused on what to do, Michelle on what to avoid: Author Zig Ziglar in his book, Better Than Good, tells about the 2002 Winter Olympic Games when sixteen‑year‑old Sarah Hughes skated her way to a gold medal. Sarah stepped on the ice, says Zig, not believing she had a chance of winning any medal, so she just skated with reckless abandon, unconcerned about the live audience, the television audience, or for that matter, the judges. She just gave it all she had. That sheer abandon she exhibited expressed the total joy she was feeling at the time and she turned in a spectacular performance, winning the gold. Michelle Kwan, on the other hand, skated after Sarah and was expected to win the gold. She was a true champion, beloved by skating fans the world over, and the recipient of many medals in her career. But after Sarah Hughes’s flawless performance, Michelle went out determined not to make any mistakes. Consequently, she fell, and took the bronze. Zig Ziglar contends that while Sarah was focused on what to do, Michelle was focused on what to avoid doing. And it made the difference. That is what fear continually does to us. We fear failure, and the very act of fearing causes us to fail. We fear the future, and because of that fear, we sabotage opportunities that come to us. We fear sickness and pain and death, and the weight of that worry increases the chances that illness will overtake us. That is why Jesus’ words are so important to us, “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.” (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
10) Focus your thoughts on God: There is a story about the famous statesman Bismarck who came into a friend’s house and saw a portrait of himself on display in the friend’s parlor. The picture portrayed Bismarck as a strong and forceful man. Bismarck shook his head and asked, “Is that supposed to be me? It can’t be.” Then he turned around to a picture his friend had of the fearful Simon Peter sinking beneath the waves and said, “That is I!” That is how we feel when we take our eyes off of Christ. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale tells how he once developed laryngitis because he worried about a speaking engagement at which he would be speaking to over a thousand people. When he sought medical help, his doctor said, “I didn’t think I would ever have to give this kind of advice to Norman Vincent Peale: Focus your thoughts on God, don’t focus them on your problems…when you focus on your problems, your nervous system tightens up so your blood doesn’t flow harmoniously. As a result, you experience sickness. Focus your thoughts on God instead of on your problems…” (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
11) The Denial of Death In his Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker says that so many of the fears that we grapple with – the fear of rejection, abandonment, failure, separation, loss – are but manifestations of the one ultimate fear, and that is the fear of death. Perhaps he is right. How do we overcome that ultimate fear? Faith. Only through Faith will the demons of fear that can haunt us be exorcized. I think the Gospel is telling us that when Peter stepped out onto the lake, walked on the water, it was only when he looked at the wind and waves that he became terrified and stopped looking at Jesus, and that is when he started to sink, Jesus later asked him why he doubted. Why didn’t his Faith carry him across the water to Jesus’ side? It was fear. Fear crept in and doubt began to rise and Peter began to sink. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
12) Not a single person bullied her or taunted her. In the book, A Second Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Bill Sanders writes of a young neighbor named Nikki who learned to walk on the water. When Nikki was in seventh grade, she was diagnosed with leukemia. Nikki went through the necessary chemotherapy and the resulting loss of hair. To be different as a seventh grader is a kind of death. Without hair, Nikki was very different from her peers. She was a generally popular girl, but still she faced hurdles. Kids would sneak up behind her and snatch her wig off. People would stare and laugh. No one would sit with her in the cafeteria or in math class, and the lockers on either side of hers had been vacated. Nikki told her neighbor, Bill, that she could handle losing her hair. And with her faith in God, she could handle losing her life. But the hardest part of her illness was losing her friends. Nikki’s parents had given her permission to stay out of school, but then Nikki changed her mind. She heard a story about a seventh-grader in Arkansas who was bullied for bringing his Bible to school. The boy handed his Bible to his biggest tormentor and said, “Here, see if you’ve got enough courage to carry this around school just one day.” Those three bullies became his three friends. Another story that affected Nikki was of a boy from Ohio named Jimmy Masterdiro. Ohio didn’t have a state motto, so Jimmy wrote a proposed state motto, then set up a petition to get the motto legitimated by the state. Jimmy got enough signatures to take his petition before the State legislature. Because of Jimmy Masterdiro, Ohio’s official state motto is, “All things are possible with God.” Nikki set out for the school the next Monday as usual. Her parents drove her. When she got to school, Nikki hugged and kissed both her parents. Then she said, “Mom and Dad, guess what I’m going to do today?” Her eyes began to tear up. “Today I’m going to find out who my best friend is. Today I’m going to find out who my real friends are.” Then Nikki took off her wig and set it on the car seat. “They take me for who I am, Daddy, or they don’t take me at all. I don’t have much time left. I’ve got to find out who they are today.” Then Nikki asked for her parents’ prayers, and she walked into the school. Not a single person bullied her or taunted her. [Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, [(Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc., 1995), pp. 24-27.] I don’t know what walking on the water would be for you. Going back to school? Asking for that promotion? Inviting your next-door neighbor to come to a Bible study with you? All I’m saying is, don’t let fear defeat you. You have a Friend who comes to you in your hour of greatest need and says, “Don’t be afraid; you can do it. Step out of the boat and walk on the water with Me.” (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
13) Do you recognize the name Anna Taylor? No? It’s just as well. On October 24, 1901, Anna was the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel and live. That’s too much risk-taking for most of us. Do you know what the last words of a redneck are? “Hey, guys, watch this.” Some risk-taking is just plain dumb. And yet some people, by their very nature, are risk-takers. Christopher Columbus was a risk-taker. So are racecar drivers and many celebrities. These people have a personality trait which researchers call “novelty-seeking.” Researchers say novelty-seekers are usually outgoing, excitable, short-tempered and eager for new experiences. They’re also likelier to have a gene that fosters this thrill-seeking temperament. Studies by Israeli and U.S. researchers, published in Nature Genetics, have linked novelty-seeking behavior with a gene that affects the body’s response to the brain chemical dopamine. Dopamine helps stimulate the feeling of euphoria. It affects how we perceive pain, and it plays a role in the sensations produced by some addictive drugs. The researchers found that people with the gene for the D4 dopamine receptor were likelier to seek new experiences than people without this receptor. How they pursue their novelty-seeking, however, will be determined by their experiences. A novelty-seeker encouraged to be athletic, for instance, might try bungee jumping, while someone from a cerebral environment might become an inventor. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
14) Reach out to Jesus: Dale Carnegie relates in his famous book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, the resilience of a discouraged and disheartened book salesman, John R. Antony. Antony knew his job thoroughly, but, somehow, he never made many sales. Day by day, he was discouraged. He became afraid to call on people. Even when he went in, often, he would wish that his client wouldn’t be in the seat. The sales manager threatened to stop his advances if he didn’t send in more orders. With decreasing sales, Antony grew depressed. The only reason he did not commit suicide was because he did not have the courage to do so. Since he had no one else to turn towards, he turned towards God. He asked God to help him to give him money to feed his wife and his three children. After the prayer he opened his eyes and saw the Bible on the dresser in the hotel room. He opened the Bible read the words of Jesus: “Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Mt: 6: 25-33).” As he read and prayed over those words of Jesus, a miracle happened. His anxieties, worries and fears were transformed into heart-warming courage and hope and triumphant Faith. The next morning, he got up and dressed well and headed towards his clients with a bold and positive stride. He held his chin high and introduced himself confidently and began his selling of the books. From then on, he never turned back. Twenty-two years later he confessed this truth: “That night I had become suddenly aware of my relationship with God. A mere man alone can easily be defeated, but a man alive with the power of God within him is invincible. I know. I saw it work in my own life.” Anthony from his sinking state reached out to Christ and Christ lifted him up. (John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
15) A dog walking on water: An avid duck hunter was in the market for a new bird dog. His search ended when he found a dog that could actually walk on water to retrieve a duck. Shocked by his find, he was sure none of his friends would ever believe him. He decided to try to break the news to a friend of his, a pessimist by nature, and invited him to hunt with him and his new dog. As they waited by the shore, a flock of ducks flew by. they fired, and a duck fell. The dog responded and jumped into the water. The dog, however, did not sink but instead walked across the water to retrieve the bird, never getting more than his paws wet. The friend saw everything but did not say a single word. On the drive home the hunter asked his friend, “Did you notice anything unusual about my new dog?” “I sure did,” responded his friend. “He can’t swim.” (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
16) “It was then that I carried you.” One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonging to him, and the other to the LORD. When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life. This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it. “LORD, you said that once I decided to follow You, You’d walk with me all the way. But I noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why, when I needed You most, You would leave me.” The LORD replied, “My precious, precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.” (Fr. Tommy Lane). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
17) St. Tharsilla’s Secret: Have Faith and live it: St. Tharsilla [thar-SIHL-uh] lived in Rome in the 500s. She and her sister St. Emiliana [ehm-eel-ee-YAHN-uh] were living on their father’s estate just outside the city walls. They dedicated themselves almost entirely to prayer and to serving the poor. Their brother was Pope St. Gregory the Great. Quite a family – three siblings, all of them canonized saints! They did more for the Church and society in those violent, cataclysmic years than any number of politicians, businessmen, or generals – and the secret to their fruitfulness was prayer. As St. Tharsilla lay on her deathbed in the year 550, a relative from three generations before, who had also been a saint, Pope St Felix II, appeared to her. He showed her a place in Heaven, saying, “Come; I will receive you into this habitation of light…” After that, her deathbed became a place of intense joy, not of sorrow and anxiety. Just a couple days after that vision, Tharsilla entered into her agony, and her last words before dying were: “Away! Away! My Savior Jesus is coming!” It was Christmas Eve. A few days afterwards, St. Tharsilla appeared to her sister, St. Emiliana, and called her to come and celebrate the Epiphany in Heaven. And indeed, St Emiliana died on the eve of January 6, the feast of the Epiphany. These two saints lived such an intimate friendship with Jesus that not even life’s greatest suffering – the sickness and death of a loved one, could steal their joy or interior peace. They truly were citizens of Heaven, even while they lived beautiful, inspiring lives here on earth. Of course, holiness like that doesn’t happen randomly. (E-Priest). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
18) The Paradox of Infant Baptism: This is one reason why many non-Catholic Christian denominations condemn the ancient, Catholic practice of infant Baptism. For them, Faith is a personal commitment to follow Jesus Christ, and Baptism is the symbol of that commitment. And so, for them, it makes no sense to baptize a baby who is too young to be able to make a personal commitment. Of course, they are forgetting that Faith is much more than just a “personal commitment” – though it is certainly nothing less. Faith is first and foremost a gift of God, a gift of God’s grace. This is the difference between Faith and self-help. Jesus saved us while we were still sinners, and his saving love changed our hearts – not the other way around. When we baptize babies that’s what we are focusing on: God’s unconditional generosity in offering us salvation not as a reward for something we did, but purely out of love. The Gospels tell us about many parents who asked Jesus to come and heal their sick or dying children, even though the children couldn’t ask for themselves. Just so, Catholic parents, through the Sacrament of Baptism, ask God to come and give His gift of grace to their newborns, who are too young to ask for it themselves. So the non-Catholic Christians who criticize infant Baptism are confused about that point; they are forgetting that friendship with Christ begins with God’s free gift of grace. But they aren’t confused when they criticize Catholics for being so caught up in external rituals that we sometimes neglect our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Parents who have their children baptized, for example, but then never teach their children how to pray, are only doing half their job. And our non-Catholic brothers and sisters are right to call us to task for it. (E-Priest). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
19) Walking on Water: A Man Called Peter was a best-selling biography that was later made into a movie. It narrates the life of Peter Marshall, a Scotsman from Glasgow whose desire was to be a seaman but whose destiny took him to the U.S. Senate as chaplain. As a lad, Peter enlisted in the British Navy, but his career had lasted only two days when it was discovered that he was only 14 years old. Later, when working as a machinist and teaching Sunday School, Peter felt the call to be a minister. Persuaded by a cousin to come across to America, Peter set out in Faith to cross the cold waters of the North Atlantic. With little money, no friends and only a job reference, Peter likened himself to other men of Faith who ventured into the unknown, men like the patriarch Abraham, the explorer Columbus, and the pioneer Brigham Young. The Lord continued to guide Peter Marshall in surprising ways through the Presbyterian ministry, in marriage to Catherine, his parish assignments and finally to his fame as chaplain to the U.S. Senate. Peter Marshall died in 1949 when he was only 46, but in that short lifetime he inspired thousands of people by his preaching, his friendliness, and above all by his life of prayer. Another man called Peter, who ventured over water, is the subject of today’s Gospel. God is calling many of us to walk on the water, to move into the unknown. What kind of Faith do we have? Will we sink with Peter or set sail with Peter Marshall? (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
20) Hanging by an inch: There is a character in the classic work Don Quixote named Pancho Sanchez. Pancho Sanchez hangs in fear from the ledge of a window all night long, too frightened to let go. When morning dawns he discovers his toes are only an inch off the ground. It’s amusing to think of Simon Peter climbing out of the boat trying to imitate his Lord by walking on the water. Then, like a cartoon character, he makes the mistake of looking around. “What in the world am I doing?” he asks himself and suddenly he begins to sink. How often that happens in life! People are charting a successful course in their business, in their marriage, in their walk with Christ, and then they begin to listen to their fears. “What if I fail? What if the market fails? What if my Faith is misplaced?” and they begin slowly to sink. (King Duncan, Barking Pigs and Determined Disciples). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
21) Storm in a parish- Fr. Andrew Greeley’s story: One upon a time a battered parish priest approached his Bishop. “I want to retire,” he said. “You’re not old enough to retire.” “Yeah, but I’m worn out. My laity are fighting one another, my young people don’t come to Church. My parish Council has no guts. My teenagers drink too much. My staff members are in constant conflict. A couple of women are trying to take over the parish. Men can’t stand the tension. My collections are down. Spies are reporting me to you every week. Grammar school kids are breaking windows and writing graffiti. I receive anonymous hate mail every day.” The Bishop sighed loudly, that West of Ireland sigh which suggests the advent of a serious asthmas attack. “Let me tell you about my problems.” The two men sat in silence for a few minutes after they had exchanged woes. “Well,” said the bishop, “congratulations on having a lively parish. It’s still alive and kicking and Jesus is active in your parish boat calming the sea.” So, the pastor went back to his parish resolving to walk on the stormy parish sea with Jesus. He did not resign. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
22) A gypsy family who survived the Holocaust by Faith: In war, the saying goes, there is no one who is right. There are only those who are left. From the early 1940’s, there comes the true story of a gypsy family who survived the Holocaust of World War II. The family were members of a traveling circus that toured throughout eastern Europe. In one of the family acts, a teenage daughter would jump from a high wire with no net below, and her father would catch her. The account goes that one day her father left the apartment they were staying early, leaving the daughter alone in the apartment. Later that morning, there was a knock on the door. When she opened it, she found a stranger who said he had a message from her father. The stranger told her the message was as follows: Nazi troops were coming into town and she needed to escape. But it was far too risky for the father to enter the town or the daughter to escape in the daylight hours. Their only hope was to escape at night. So the stranger told her that at 2 in the morning she was to walk out to the northwest corner of the apartment building. And right at 2am, she was to jump from the rooftop and her father would be below to catch her. Understandably, the daughter was confused. She didn’t know the messenger. She didn’t know whether the message he gave her was actually from her father. She wasn’t even positive which corner of the apartment building was the northwest corner. Well, as the day went on the Nazis did in fact enter the town and take up positions. That night at 2am the daughter went to the rooftop. She looked down and it was pure blackness. She whispered, “Father, are you there?” No answer. And then she jumped…..and her father caught her! Leaps of faith are normally less dramatic, but they are no less real. In order to act in good Faith, the young daughter had to trust. First, she had to trust that the stranger was really sent by her father. Second, she had to trust that the message was her father’s message. Finally, she had to trust that she herself would leap from the correct corner of the rooftop, and that her father would be ready below. We find Peter making a leap of Faith. (Rev. Tom Mannebach). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
23) Sign and Countersign: In December 1874, the steamship Edwin, enroute to Australia from a Washington State port, sprang a bad leak off Vancouver Island, and had to drop anchor. Some Hesquiat Indians on the nearby shore, seeing that the ship was in distress, jumped into their canoes, and braved high waves to come to the sailors’ aid. However, the crew feared that the natives were hostile, so they gestured them away. Although these Indians were not yet Christian, they had already learned of the Christian respect for the sign of the cross. To prove that they came in peace, they blessed themselves so that the sailors could see them. As a countersign, the crew also made the sign of the cross. Then they let the Hesquiats come aboard the foundering vessel. Shortly after, rescuers and shipwrecked disembarked in the canoes and soon reached the safety of the beach. …Jesus hastened to reassure them: “Get hold of yourselves! It is I. Do not be afraid!” (Matthew, 14:27. Gospel of the day.) -Father Robert F. McNamara. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
24) Storms confront us all the time in Ordinary Time. Sometimes those storms are shared by large numbers of people. That’s the reality of globalization. Today, no one is untouched by global warming. Islands in the South Pacific find themselves underwater. The Polar ice caps recede each year. California experiences drought, beef prices rise and fisher folks on Cape Cod find their industry dying. A small tropical storm off the coast of Africa becomes a Stage 5 Hurricane battering the Gulf Coast of the United States. A tiny virus in China becomes a global pandemic. Terrorism in Latin America floods our borders with young children. Reality confronts us in Ordinary Time. Those storms also take highly individualized form. Last week I lost a close friend from high school, a talented artist with a gallery in Rockport. His wife and daughter and their families are going through a storm today. Later in the service we will pray for others whose personal boats are being crashed by waves. Maybe it’s illness, maybe it’s a fractured relationship, maybe it’s economic uncertainty. Sometimes, the storms are visible to others and sometimes they are hidden, but the storms are very real. But today’s Gospel passage reminds us that God and Jesus are with us in life’s toughest moments, when waves threaten to drown us. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony
25) ): “God sometimes whispers.” There is a story told about a young man and an old preacher. The young man had lost his job and didn’t know which way to turn. So he went to see the old preacher. Pacing about the preacher’s study, the young man ranted about his problem. Finally, he clenched his fist and shouted, “I’ve begged God to say something to help me. Tell me, Preacher, why doesn’t God answer?” The old preacher, who sat across the room, spoke something in reply – something so hushed, it was indistinguishable. The young man stepped across the room. “What did you say?” he asked. The preacher repeated himself, but again in a tone as soft as a whisper. So, the young man moved closer until he was leaning on the preacher’s chair. “Sorry,” he said. “I still didn’t hear you.” With their heads bent together, the old preacher spoke once more. “God sometimes whispers,” he said, “so that we will move closer to hear Him.” This time the young man heard, and he understood. We all want God’s voice to thunder through the air with the answer to our problem. But God’s is the still, small voice… the gentle whisper. Perhaps there’s a reason. Nothing draws human focus quite like a whisper. God’s whisper means I must stop my ranting and move close to Him, until my head is bent together with His. Then, as I listen, I will find my answer. Better still, I find myself closer to God. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) Fr. Tony L/20
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle A (No. 43) by Fr. Tony: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit my website by clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle A homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at email@example.com. Visit https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies under CBCI or Fr. Tony for my website version. (Special thanks to Vatican Radio website– http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html -which completed uploading my Cycle A, B and C homilies in May 2020) Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604
32 GB USB collection available as “Fr. Tony’s preaching & Teaching Resources” of all Sunday (cycles A, B, C) & weekday homilies (year I, II), Life of saints, Exegetical notes by experts, 4500 Catholic articles on all topics, Collection of jokes, 1200 pages of Questions and Answers, 141 Year of Faith Lessons for Adult groups, RCIA classes with attached videos; 380 YouTube video presentations for RCIA, Adult groups and CCD classes. (Contents under 13 titles covering 42, 000 pages & 480 videos). Contact Fr. Tony for details(firstname.lastname@example.org) with your address and role in your parish. Fr. Tony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604, U. S. A.