HE MAIN THING that spiritual writers and commentators on the Bible find in the first reading for today is this: God does not ordinarily speak to us in extraordinary ways like earthquakes and rushing winds and fires, but in a tiny whispering sound. And one could develop this thought by saying that if one wants to hear this, one certainly has to be very quiet.
If there is one thing that the modern day world does not like, it is peace and quiet. One can hardly go anywhere and not have to listen to some kind of noise, be it music or some kind of broadcasting. I’m not in a position to say why this is. I just know the fact. I’m particularly annoyed when I visit someone’s home, and they don’t even have the courtesy to turn off the TV. However this topic is perhaps getting us off the subject. The point that I want to make is that if you want to have a conversation with God, it is best to do in a quiet atmosphere or surroundings. In my opinion that is why a quiet condition in our Churches is so important. I don’t think I need say more about what we experience in so many of our modern day Churches.
Probably one part of today’s Gospel that is passed over is the section where we are told that Jesus went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Now we can only speculate as to what kind of praying Jesus did. But if you take a definition of prayer that I frequently use, namely that “prayer is simply a conversation or talking with God,” then Jesus praying would simply be conversing with His Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit. Now their conversation would not be like anything we would have or could imagine. We simply can’t imagine what it would be like, because, we are not divine; we are not God. Again this activity on the part of our Lord is bringing out a part of that wonderful mysterious blend of His two natures, the human and divine. We will never understand it.
THE REACTION OF THE DISCIPLES when they saw someone walking on the water was very natural. We probably would have reacted in the same way. But Jesus reassures them that they have nothing to fear. I don’t want to sound disrespectful to St. Peter, but I have always felt that he spoke out without really thinking ahead of time what he was saying. I have often had reason in sermons to say that I think that St. Peter in many respects seemed to be the most ‘human’ of all the apostles. We certainly seem to have more of his faults and failings recorded than of anyone else. So often he seemed to speak before he thinks. I’m not here to criticize him. If anything we might find some encouragement for ourselves from his frailties.
We can all probably identify with the disciples when it comes to their having fears. It’s easy now to say that they had nothing to fear since Jesus was so close. But that is not how it works in real life situations. And the same can be true for us. If you are anything like me, then you probably have had many fears or worries in life that later you found out to be groundless. But at the time they can be very real. The important thing to do to overcome them is to live in the here and now; to enjoy what we have here and now and not to be always projecting into the future. God has certainly taken care of us up to this point. He has probably had reason many times to say to us also, O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” If we could only enjoy what God gives to us right now and not worry about the future!
When I attended Franciscan College they had an excellent man as our dean of students, Fr. Ignatius Brady, OFM. One of the spiritual books that he highly recommended was Christ in His Mysteries by Abbott Marmion, OSB. The general theme of this book was to take the events of the life of Christ and see them not only as events long past, but as events still happening in the life of the Church, especially in the Liturgical year, especially as portrayed in the Gospel selections each Sunday. He would encourage us to reflect on each Sunday’s selection and try to make it alive in our own lives for inspiration and imitation. Hopefully some of the ideas which I have presented in this homily will be helpful in your being able to do so.
We hope you enjoyed this homily by Fr. Valentine Young, OFM.