August 10, 2008
Apologies for missing last week. I tried to delete an
individual contact from the OLPH file & the entire file disappeared! I've
only been able to send this one by adding each individual addressee by
hand. I'll see if I can get this rectified this week.
ORDINARY 19 (A)
When he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; &, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord save me!” – Mt. 14: 30
There are times when one’s effort to do the right thing, to do a good job seems as difficult & frustrating as trying to walk on water: trying to be a good parent, trying to get parents to understand, trying not to hold a grudge, trying to kick some awful habit, trying to stay on a needed diet, trying to come to terms with the terrible loneliness & grief that follows the loss of a loved one, & yes, even trying to preach a sermon. We feel nothing solid underfoot. We have the awful sensation of being sucked down into the dark depths.
When everything seems to be going our way, when the burden is light, the act of faith comes easiest. But when things begin to go against us, when the burden becomes heavy & we feel our spirits sinking, faith comes hardest.
Like Peter, many of us are happy to respond to our Lord’s command to come to Him, but then we begin to realize just how difficult it can be at times & we become frightened. We may have faith, but we have yet to learn the path of perseverance. Our focus shifts from Jesus to a preoccupation with the wind & we sink. Yet this need not be entirely a bad thing.
Spiritual progress entails facing our fears & coming to understand why we fail. That is how we grow, unless, of course, we allow the fears to take over & render us impotent. That is where His helping hand comes in. It serves to remind us that we have not been abandoned, that relying exclusively upon our own resources or will power simply won’t work.
There’s the story of a man who was attracted to the Christian faith & had been coming to church for some time. When asked why he hadn’t taken the step of baptism, he said that his experience had been like climbing aboard a train & asking the conductor, “How much?” When the reply was, “Your life,” I got scared & hid in the caboose & I’ve been hiding there ever since. The irony is that it is not until we lose our life in Christ that we find it. That is something the disciples, & all of us for that matter, have to learn the hard way.
Violence, ignorance, greed, injustice, inhumanity & our own stupidity can overcome the best efforts of our selves & other people. We doubt that things are better, that what we have done has mattered. Our efforts to calm the waves have been ineffectual. Our minds are taking us down the path of despair. Before our Lord’s outstretched hand reaches us, we may be consoled by the thought that there is no finer way to sink. AMEN!