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Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat died him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.” – Matthew 14:22-33

My husband and I have our week planned out: Organize the garage, move everything out of the guest room and into the garage, build another bunk bed, put locks on the cabinets, round up all the ‘poisons’ – bug spray, raid, etc., find every hiding space of pepper spray and lock it up. We’re deep in the process of getting our home foster-certified. The home we just moved into. The home we JUST finished decorating. The home that feels so peaceful and is just the right size for the two of us. WHAT ARE WE THINKING?

I’m sitting at the beach writing this reflection while I watch my husband attempting to learn to surf. Let me tell ya. It’s funny. And a little terrifying. (At what point is a wave going to hit his head into the board?! Shouldn’t they wear helmets?!) These waves are relentless! When do they stop?! Oh yeah, they don’t. They just keep coming.

The waves of life are no different. They just keep coming! And for most of us, we’re just happy we made it onto the boat. Those crazy guys trying to ride the waves – they’re something else. Or that Peter, thinking he should step OUT of the boat? He’s gotta be crazy! I finally made it on the boat – I prefer not to be hit by another wave, thank you very much. Or for me, I finally feel settled in San Diego – why would I shake up my world to attempt respite or foster care? Because Jesus repeatedly asks us to step out of the boat and follow him. He asks us to have faith, to walk on the waves, to hold his hand and to (oh, there it is again!) BE NOT AFRAID.

“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” While I do believe there are times when we need to rest and be still, I think more often than not, our comfortable lives do not mirror the Gospel call to a life of faith. We show how little faith we have by the way we live our lives. Why do we doubt that following God is worth the waves? Why do we doubt that God’s joy and peace will be worth the loss we suffer by following Him? Why do we doubt that He can just reach out His hand and pick us up in an instant?

Our first Sunday reading tells the story of Elijah going to a mountain to hear God speak. He doesn’t hear Him in the wind, the earthquake or the fire, but in a tiny whisper. And then in our Gospel reading, Jesus takes time to get away from people to pray. We have to get away from the noise and the action to hear God’s voice. In those moments of silence, to what is God calling you? In what area of your life do you need to step out of the boat? Is it getting involved in a ministry? Going to confession for the first time in a long time? Giving away more money than is ‘comfortable’? Welcoming a child into your home? Welcoming an aging parent into your home? Giving away your excess items? Having another child? Going on a retreat or a pilgrimage? Coming to Wednesday rehearsal?! ;)

The waves are never going to stop coming in life. So why not step out of the boat and make a decision to walk directly into the waves to follow Jesus? Just as Jesus said to Peter, He says to us today, “Come.”

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