Homily - Homily 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj

9 August 2020 

Homily for XIX Sunday Year A. 09-08-2020 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
First Reading: 1 Kings 19:9, 11-13
Psalm: Psalm 84:9-14
Second Reading: Romans 9:1-5
Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33
 
The blessed founder of the Congregation of the Oblates of St. Joseph – St. Joseph Marello, in one of his spiritual sayings enjoined his sons and daughters ‘to live day by day trying to recognise in every event the will of God.’ If God is everywhere it then means that He can as well be able to speak to us in all events of our lives including even the most nasty ones. But the truth however is that when we are at such crossroads, it becomes even more difficult to remember that there is God somewhere let alone being able to hear His voice and see His will in those experiences. Such was the experience of the prophet of God Elijah in our first reading. It was precisely because He served God with fidelity and destroyed the false prophets of baal who stood in opposition to God’s ways that the queen Jezebel sought to kill him. How could poor Elijah see this as the will of God that he had to run for his dear life to Horeb the mountain of the Lord where He would encounter the Lord? But even here, he became disappointed that the omnipotent God did not come to him through any of the powerful symbols he was expecting; the mighty wind, the earthquake, the fire. The Lord was not in any of them but instead, He came to him in a gentle breeze, an unexpected ‘weak symbol’ with which the Lord showed him that He is indeed a sign of contradiction as would be Christ in the gospels. And despite the threats to his life, the Lord instead of asking him to halt, inaugurated him for yet a new mission. Indeed God’s ways are not our ways, His thoughts not our thoughts (Is.55:8-9). So in the midst of turbulence, God comes to us in the manner we least expect and sometimes we may not even see Him.
 
Just as God came to the aid of Elijah in the moment of his persecution so also He came to Peter’s aid in a turbulent experience in the gospel reading. Christ had just finished feeding five thousand men excluding women and children with five loaves of bread and two fish, and the scraps alone filled 12 baskets. This wasn’t so much a big deal for Christ as they knew, and so it wasn’t greeted with so much awe. The real test came after Christ had made them go into the boat on ahead of Him by themselves to the other side and had dismissed the crowds. He then went up the hill to pray to His father, and it was from here that we got the reaction of Christ that reveals His very essence where He teaches us that human needs surpass all other spiritual claims, even prayer, every time out. His disciples had been plagued by windstorm at sea tossing their boat with no help in view and they must have despaired when at the last watch, the fourth watch of the night which is between 3am and 6am, Christ leaving his place of prayer, came to their aid walking on the sea. He called out to them – Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid. If He did this to His first disciples, He cannot stop doing same to His disciples even today, and He wants us to do same to others around us as well.
 
When we know about the suffering of any person, it means that God has given us the capacity to be of help to that person. We must do something no matter how little to be of assistance. This is how we become true disciples of Christ. As true disciples we also must know that just like Elijah, and Peter and the other disciples, we will also be plagued by storms in this life. However, the joy is that even in those challenging moments He is close to us, stretching out His hand towards us to save us as He did to Peter. Because He has promised to remain with us, till to the end of time.
 
Like Elijah, Peter, and the other disciples, many of us today too are facing different challenges in life. These situations are our own troubled waters. The covid-19 pandemic is just one of such that is common to all of us. Today also, many others are becoming increasingly troubled by conditions in the Church. Scandals afflict us. We hear of pedophilia even among the clergy. The faith of our Christian company plummets like the stock market on a bearish day. The sea storms hit us in the front, the back, the left and the right. There is no escaping it when we are in the middle of it. That is chaos. Both the guilty and innocent in the Church suffer for it. In addition to the scandals, today also the church is a popular object of calumny. This too is chaos for all in the Church. On the personal level too, many of us have made bad choices that continue to haunt us. Many of us have sinned. Many of us suffer the results of our sins or the sins of others. At times when it seems like everything is well and at peace, then a loved one or family member suddenly dies. This too is chaos. We did not cause the chaos, but we do suffer from it. We are all in the ocean of life that is full of chaos from within and from without. The important thing we should not forget is that no matter what chaos there is in the world and in our lives, Jesus walks on it. He conquers the chaos. This Gospel reminds us that the Church too like the boat today in the gospel has found herself in hurricane seas from day one. When we find ourselves breaking into a cold sweat over the latest scandal, we should remember those lyrical words of our Lord, "Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid!" yes, it is His Church, not the Church of the Pope, or bishop or that priest who caused the scandal. Therefore, He will not leave His Church in the scandal-rocking storm but He will come to us walking on the troubled waters. All we have to do is to have sublime faith in Him and He will call us to walk out onto the chaos and walk towards him. No chaotic situation can hold us down and hinder us from reaching our destination. If we are overcome by fear like Peter and begin to sink, He is there to reach down and lift us out of the water, out of the chaos, just as He lifted Peter out of the water, out of the chaos of his life. What is the chaos in your life? No matter the chaos in your life, be it sickness or death of a loved one, or scandals or sin or drug addiction or substance abuse or turmoil in your life, your marriage or family, remember, that there is nothing, no chaos that is too great for Jesus to conquer. And there is nothing too devastating for us to conquer with Him who is above all and God forever blessed. May He come to our aid and lift us out of whatever chaos we have found ourselves. Amen.

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