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Walking on Water

The last time I was with you I told you about a priest, an evangelist, and a minister who had serious racoon problems in their respective churches.

Today we find the same three in a rowboat in the middle of a pond fishing. None of them had caught anything all morning.

Then the evangelist stands up and says he needs to go to the bathroom so he climbs out of the boat and walks on the water to shore. He comes back ten minutes later the same way.

Then the minister decides he needs to go to the bathroom, too, so he climbs out of the boat and walks on the water to shore. He, too, comes back the same way ten minutes later.

The priest looks at both of them and decides that his faith is just as strong as his fishing buddies and that he can walk on water, too. He stands up and excuses himself. As he steps out, he makes a big splash down into the water.

The evangelist looks at the minister and says,”I suppose we should have told him where the rocks were.”

My last homily was on the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Since then we have spent most of our time walking with Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew and he has been telling us parables. I once read that if you want to know what God thinks study the parables.

Today’s gospel story starts after the miracle of the multiplication of the loves and fish. Jesus sends his closest disciples away on a boat. He goes off by himself to pray.

There is a storm on the Sea of Galilee and the disciples are worried that they are going to die when Jesus walks across the water. They go from worried to having a panic attack thinking that he is a ghost.

When they finally realize that this might be Jesus, Peter finds the courage to call out and him saying:
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  

When I get the opportunity to speak to Christian group I like to ask them to raise there hands if they are in agreement with the following statements.

The first is- Do you believe everything that Jesus teaches in the Gospel? Most of the hands go up.

The second statement is a bit more challenging. I ask them to put up their hands if the have a deep and unwavering faith.  Here the response is mixed and it differs based on the group.

I then read them some quotes from people of faith who have shared the many doubts they have faced with respect to their faith. The audience is surprised to learn that all of these quotes about having a true and deep crisis of faith are actually the same person- Saint Mother Teresa.

What is faith?

The dictionary defines Faith as complete trust or confidence in someone or something. The same dictionary tells us that Doubt is a feeling of uncertainty.

Can you have faith and doubt at the same time?

I would suggest that the answer is yes and one could argue that if you do not have some doubt, some uncertainty then there is no need for faith.

Let me give you a simple example. Who has a cell phone? Can I have it for a moment?

Let me ask you a question. Do you believe in the law of gravity? If you have, any doubts about the law of gravity would you mind if I used your cell phone to demonstrate how it works by letting go of it.

Believing in the law of gravity takes absolutely no faith what so ever and few have any doubts about it.

Believing and living everything Jesus teaches, however, takes a great deal of faith and a radical trust in God.

In my last homily, I shared with you the four (4) non-negotiables of faith as I see it if you truly believe everything Jesus teaches in the gospel. They are:

Non-negotiable 1: You are the beloved child of a loving God

Non-negotiable 2: Love of God/Self/Neighbour/ Enemy

Non-negotiable 3: We are a people of Forgiveness

Non-negotiable 4: We practice inclusion- Open Table Fellowship

I read recently that the opposite of faith is not doubt instead it is worry. After all, if we believe everything Jesus teaches in the gospel then why do we worry?

Take the example of Mother Teresa. I do not think you could really argue that she was not a person of great faith. She clearly believed in the Non-negotiable #4, which is the practice of Open table Fellowship. She considered all she met as worthy of love, compassion and care.

She found the courage to leave the protection of the convent and went into the streets of Calcutta. What she encountered there eventually took its toll and she had many doubts but those doubts did not lead to a state of paralysis brought on by worry and anxiety.

If she allowed herself to become a victim of worry and had she stopped trusting Jesus, she most likely would have quit her ministry in defeat.

Jesus does not promise us that life will be nothing but smooth sailing. In today’s gospel, the disciples are in the midst of a storming sea.

Jesus does promise us however that we are all the children of a loving God and regardless of what happens in our lives, if we ruthlessly trust him and if we have faith in him then there truly is no need to worry. ,

Easy to say; “Don’t Worry” but it is hard for most of us to do.

Next week if you come for the 20th Sunday in OT you will hear the story of a Canaanite women who asked Jesus to cast out a demon from her daughter.

At 1st Jesus rebuffs the woman’s pleas in some pretty unkind ways. The woman persists, and at the end of the passage, Jesus praises her as a woman of great faith.

This week the Church will celebrate the Assumption of the Body and Soul of Mary into heaven.

Mary, the Mother of Jesus is the greatest example of faith. I encourage you to read the passages about Mary in the Gospel. We learn that Mary would often “ponder” things in her heart. We ‘ponder’ when we are unsure of something.

Mary did not let worry stop her from saying yes. Her yes did not mean that there would not be much pain as a result. Imagine her at the foot of the cross.

I encourage you to look at the things in your life that cause you worry and anxiety.

Today’s gospel encourages us to leave our worries in the boat. Jesus is calling us to come to him, to ruthlessly trust and have faith in him, and to know that despite our doubts we are never alone.

This does not mean that the worries you have left behind in the boat are not still there. However, if we choose to live a life based on faith in Jesus we will find the courage to go in peace.

We find this peace because we have chosen to live lives without worry and fear which is one way we can truly glorify the Lord.

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