19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Homily)
I was in Beijing for a vacation 3 years ago. Among the many historical places I visited, I would never forget two sites – The Imperial Palace which is also known as The Forbidden City, and the Great Wall of China.
There was a huge crowd present at both sites and I felt lost in the Forbidden City, jostled and sandwiched by the crowd. After going through so much anxiety and hassle for about an hour, I finally met up with my tour group. We then made our way to the Great Wall of China. I went up alone to the top of the Great Wall of China but on my way down, I ended up in different exit. It took me almost 5 hours to get back with my group, once again.
My tourist guide told me that I was not focused and that I didn’t have a sense of direction. In other words, I didn’t pay attention and I was not focused on my tour guide’s instructions. That was why I had lost my direction twice. In these two tourist spots, I was so afraid and frightened when I lost my direction. I didn’t pay attention to the instructions given by my tour guide. I failed to remain focused and alert.
In our Gospel today (Matt 14: 22-33), Peter got out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus across the water, but as soon as he felt the strong wind, he took fright and began to sink. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus at all times. Our focus should be on Him always. Focus is very important in many aspects of our lives. What happened to Peter and me when we failed to keep our focus on the instructions? Peter lost his focus when he noticed the strong wind and he began to sink. And Jesus, saved him.
What happened to Peter, happened to me. Just like Peter, I was not paying attention to my guide, and I lost the way twice in Beijing. When, we don’t keep our eyes focused, we lose our directions, and our goal. It is same thing when we drive a car; if we don’t stay focused, we may ended up in a wrong place, or even worse, it may lead us to a dangerous situation.
This is the lesson that Jesus teaches both His disciples and us. Without focus we may lose our faith and our trust. If Peter fixed his eyes on Jesus, he could walk on water. If I had only focused my attention on my tour guide’s instructions, I would not have got lost in the crowd.
We tend to have these anxieties, feelings of uncertainty, and a fear of everything. We may be afraid of exams, tension amongst our peer groups, family problems, physical illness, emotional issues, or financial problems. Whatever it is that we may go through, believe that Jesus is in control of our lives. Just stay focused on Him.
During the storms of life, we may tend to feel afraid and frightened, but, we need to stay focused on Jesus and fix our eyes on Him. We need to be aware of the Power of the Holy Spirit at work within us. He will save us from all things. He will make us grow in faith. He will keep our faith alive.
My dear young people and catechism students, today we specially invited you, together with your parents and teachers, to be present in this morning Mass. You may have many friends whom you communicate with through social media – phones, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Today, Jesus reminds you that when we stay focused on Jesus and when we walk towards Him, we have nothing to be afraid of. He will come to “our boat” of life – He will come to us and all our worries and troubles will experience a sense of calm – just like in the moment “the wind dropped.”
In the first reading, Elijah heard / felt God’s presence; not in a strong wind, nor in shattered rocks, nor in an earthquake, nor in the fire, but instead, in a gentle silence God whispered to him. God is always whispering to us in times of difficulties and in times of instability in our lives. We should not be overtaken by the fears, difficulties or storms of our lives BUT INSTEAD we must learn to cope with our fears, anxieties and struggles. He is always present in all our trials. We don’t need to worry about anything. As St Paul says, we should not cut off our lives from Christ but we should keep our prayer lives growing and glowing.
In all the storms and trials of our lives, God gives us a gentle and calm spirit to save us whenever we begin to sink or drown. Let’s not lose our focus on Jesus BUT instead, we should be courageous as we grow in faith in Jesus as we overcome our trials and storms of life.
Fr. George PackiaSamy (FrGPS)
Church of St Joseph, KL
9 August 2020