Homily on Christ is in the Storm of Life With Us

Jesus with us in the storm of life

Reflection on “Christ is in the Storm of Life With Us” based on the Gospel of Matthew14:22-33 (19th Sunday in Ordinary Time):

Visitors to the Holy Land like to take a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee, the sea on which Jesus walked. A certain tourist wanted such a ride and the boatman told him the fare was one hundred dollars. “One Hundred dollars!” exclaimed the tourist, “No wonder Jesus walked!”

Being a Christian in the society, in the world we live in, holding on to our faith – is hard – to say the least. Like the disciples in the Gospel reading, it is like rowing a boat against a strong head wind. And so often – we are torn between our faith and our fears.

At times, we are like Simon Peter. Our faith is strong, and it seems that we could walk on water. At other times, our fear is stronger than our faith. And it seems that we will surely sink.

Some days, we truly believe in Christ…. that He is real…. That He is with us…we believe that His love will finally conquer the world, and there will be peace… and therefore we are ready to give our lives for the sake of the Gospel…

But there are other days when the only thing that seems real is trouble. We are surrounded by struggles, pains and sufferings… and we are afraid. So, we give in to fears and doubts, thinking we have no choice but to rely solely on our own power and resources… because God has forgotten about us.

Waves and wind – such a powerful metaphor for all those that cause fear and doubt in our daily lives… the stresses and responsibilities of our daily lives.

How often when a crisis comes in our life, we concentrate on the crisis instead of on God…. We take our eyes off of God.

When troubles come our way – often – we forget that God is still with us. We feel and so we think God has abandoned us. But our faith tells us that God is always with us. We cannot always rely on our feelings. The truth is that God is with us always, whether or not we feel His presence…no matter what our feelings tell us.

Pleasant experiences make life delightful. Painful experiences lead to growth.

Faith life – Christian life is such a paradox in the sense that true believers in God are born in hard times. Great faith grows in times of doubt and despair.

In the hardest times, faith reaches its greatest height. It is strange but true. Until we have known great despair, we cannot know great faith. Great faith has always come out of situations of despair.

But – it does not mean that we pray or look for misery or desolation or trials – so that we will grow in faith. Life will bring them to us and they will transform us.

The saints – down through the centuries – gave us wonderful examples of faith even in the midst of despair and darkness.

Cardinal Basil Hume wrote of St Thérèse’s of Lisieux – the Little Flower – that even when she experienced nothing but absence, emptiness, darkness, she held on to the assurance of being loved and carried in Jesus’ arms….that is trust, clinging to God when everything in our experience would seem to contradict His very existence, or at least his love for us.”

St. Therese became a great saint – a doctor of the church.

The Lord knows that we are not saints, not yet anyway. He knows that we are weak. He accepted Peter with his failures and weaknesses, and turned him into the Rock of the Church. The Lord takes us as we are and He walks with us on the water…in the storms of life.

God did not say that there will be no storms in our lives but He promised that He will be with us in our storms… and so when a storm hits, we are asked to take the hand of Jesus and let him lift us to safety… so to speak. Peter gave us a good example – He cried out to Jesus, and he refocused. He said: “Jesus – Save me! Jesus – save me! What saved Peter when he was sinking? – He reached out in faith. And Christ saved him.

Jesus challenges us to keep our eyes on Him, to depend on Him, to believe in Him no matter what is going on in our daily lives.

Christ is in the storm of life with us. Jesus is peace in the midst of the storm. Of course, this is much easier said than done…but our faith tells us to not give up… because the alternative is despair – which consumed Judas and we do not want to go there. So – keep trying, keep trusting… sinking in life begins when we take our eyes off of God… when we forget and do not trust in the love and grace and mercy of God.

God only asks us to have the courage to put our faith in Him…and to not be afraid.” It is a matter of the will, a matter of choice. We have our free will. We have to decide… whether or not to make that leap of faith on God.

In the Gospel reading, Peter began to sink when he concentrated too much on the threat of the wind and the waves instead of focusing on the presence of Jesus right there in front of him.
May the Lord increase our little faith so that in all the storms of life we shall have our eyes and our trust constantly fixed on Jesus and his power and not on the crisis, not on ourselves and not on our weaknesses.

With all the news of hard times many people are going through, violence, all kinds of sickness, etc., everyone of us here has crisis or storms in our lives in one form or another. Some of us here may be in the midst of a storm and on the verge of sinking in fear, into despair and hopelessness.

We have three choices – either to look at the crisis, or to look at our weakness, or to look at Jesus.

Jesus gave us an example in the Gospel of how we can prepare for and manage in the midst of the storms or chaos of life.

We heard in the Gospel – Jesus went up on the mountain by himself to pray.

We need to be people who go alone by ourselves to be alone with the Lord every day of our lives in order to have peace even in the midst of crisis.

We live in such a “rat race” society and we are all busy. People and responsibilities are pulling us a thousand ways!

That is why the more reason we must spend quality times with the Lord every day.

If coming to Sunday Mass is the only time you pray during the week – that is not good! You and I have to be alone with the Lord – our God – every day. This is the most necessary thing in our lives, that we be still in the presence of God every day – so that we can continue to have peace even in the midst of the conflicts of life, even in the midst of weakness. In prayer, we will be given the wisdom and the courage and we will know what to do, when to do it and how to do it.

If we continue to focus and re-focus our eyes on God… If we keep our eyes on the Lord, we can walk on water.

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