Homily 19th Sunday year A 2017
In our gospel today, we find the disciples on the boat in the middle of the lake being caught up in the storm. Even though some of them are seasoned fishermen we can still imagine how terrifying it must have been for them. They were battling against the strong wind far out on the lake.
But this narrative is not just about the disciples on the boat in the midst of a storm, it is as Pope Francis would say: ‘an effective image of the Church: a boat which must brave the storms and sometimes seems on the point of capsizing. What saves her is not the skill and courage of her crew members, but faith which allows her to walk, even in the dark, amid hardships. Faith gives us the certainty of Jesus’ presence always beside us, of his hand which grasps us to pull us back from danger. We are all on this boat, and we feel secure here despite our limitations and our weaknesses. We are safe especially when we are ready to kneel and worship Jesus, the only Lord of our life.” (Pope Francis Angelus Message 10 August 2014)
Remember in another part of the gospel Jesus assured to Peter that even the gates of hell will not prevail over his Church. Also in another part of the gospel, he promised to the disciples: ‘I will be with you till the end of time.’
In other words, if Jesus is with us, no storm is powerful enough to topple us over. If Jesus is the anchor of our life, no wind strong enough to uproot us. With Jesus on our side, there is nothing to be afraid even those who can kill our body, but can’t do anything on our souls.
In this gospel, Jesus assured us of two certain things: In life, HE is our LIFEGUARD and in our life of faith, he is as our HELPING HAND.
This calls us therefore to put our TRUST in Jesus rather than on any other form of god or gods we may have in our lives and in our society in general.
Just reflect on this:
How many Australian factory workers sacrificed and lost their jobs for the god called ‘PROFIT?’
How many trees, rivers, lands exploited for the god called ‘PROGRESS?’
How many poor people, communities and culture suffered and neglected for the god called ‘GREED?’
How many people, children included, sacrificed, denied of basic rights for the god called ‘SELF-GRATIFICATION?’
How many innocent men & women, voiceless & vulnerable, denied of due process & right to live, sacrificed for the god called ‘SELF- PRESERVATION or NATIONAL SECURITY?’
How many people of goodwill, important social services, institutions, agencies and people of faith who are to bear persecutions, at risk of being alienated and denied of fundamental freedom for the god called ‘MARRIAGE EQUALITY?’
How many vulnerable adults and elderly people and their families at risk of having their fundamental rights and basic freedom, being abused and denied for the god called ‘ASSISTED SUICIDE?’
How many people, families torn apart, friends becoming worst enemies, relationships broken and sacrificed for the god called ‘MONEY?’
Brothers and sisters, to win over these kind of storms in our lives we need to put our trust in Jesus.
How many holy men and women, adults and children, who willingly took the risk of trusting Jesus, laying their own lives even, for the faith, showing us that faith in Jesus is worth dying for, assuring us that Jesus, indeed is the Son of God?
There are thousands of them, putting their trust in Jesus, keeping the faith no matter what storm they might be into, because for them Jesus is worth all that they have. In Jesus alone they could find the answer to all their questions, the realisation of their dreams and aspirations and the fulfilment of their lives.
It is my prayer that we all follow their example of amazing trust in Jesus and thus to be added on to the list of the saints in glory.
Trusting in Jesus means that we allow ourselves to be guided by Jesus himself, by his word and by his example.
Trusting Jesus as members of his Church means acknowledging in humility that there are things in our life that only Jesus can make it happen, that there are teachings in our Church and in our faith that only Jesus has the power to change, and that there are things we would like done that only Jesus has the the power to do.
We can only reflect on what happened to Peter. For a moment, he believed he could walk on the water too, unaided by Jesus. But we know, when he tried to go through the storm without the help of Jesus, he started to sink. When Peter tried to do things only Jesus has the power to do, he didn’t succeed. But when he called on Jesus, he was saved. It is just as simple as saying: ‘Lord, save me!’ But it also means humility and trust in Jesus, not on our own.
Only Jesus has the power to calm the storm in our lives. We just have to be strong in our faith in him, humble ourselves, call on him to save us, reach out for his hand, and let him into our life’s boat. With him in our boat, we may still have to be shaken or threatened by trials and challenges but, we know, he can’t allow us to perish.
Remember, the boat the disciples were in was a hundred times smaller than the Titanic and built by some ordinary boat-builder using ordinary piece of wood, while the Titanic was built by professionals and is made using the best kind of materials.
It is not on how big our boat or how beautiful it is therefore, that can save us from sinking but on how much faith and trust we have in Jesus. It is not WHAT can save us but WHO can save us—Jesus, the Christ. Amen.