Just a word… Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Just a word… Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time… August 9, 2020

How would any of us respond to Jesus’ command to Peter, to come meet him on the water? Would we keep our eyes on Jesus and meet him, as he requested? Or would we doubt, falter, and begin to sink? What would it take, what qualities must we possess or strive for in order to take that leap, or rather, that walk of faith?

Theologians, poets and authors have grappled with this story and can offer us some insights into understanding our human condition when faced with the divine. Essentially they say the same thing: we are part of God’s ongoing creation; we are called to listen, be aware and respond to what is going on around us. In responding, we are called to embrace the mystery that the sacred permeates the secular…they are not separate and distinct, but part of the whole of reality. Our human calling is to co-create with God in the unfolding of the reign of God.

Okay, but what does that have to do with walking on water? Perhaps Peter was able to walk toward Jesus when he forgot that human beings are not supposed to be able to do that. Maybe fear replaced courage, when he allowed what threatened him to control his mind more than the presence of Jesus calmed him. Perhaps, forgetting last week’s lesson from Jesus, “feed them yourselves,” Peter failed to remember that faith in Jesus is not confined to worshipping, but should lead to participating in his works.

What does all this mean for us as twenty-first century Christians living in a world of pandemic and pandemonium? For one thing, listening to one another, to God’s word, and reflecting on our lives and the world in light of that listening, is required. Our responses to our situations and those of creation call for the spiritual discernment to sense God’s presence, to recognize that the sacred co-exists with the secular, and that fear can obscure our awareness of God’s care. If we are able to do this, we will embody the words of the poet e e cummings:

“now the ears of my ears are awake and

now the eyes of my eyes are opened”

Learning to pray and get out of the way, to let God be God, takes some discipline. It is no easy task when we live with the illusion that we are in control of much in our lives. But perhaps, if we remember that we are all called to listen attentively to God’s Word, to be aware of the signs of the times, and to respond appropriately, our ears and our eyes might tell us that we are all called to walk on water.

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