Saturday, August 6, 2011

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Addendum) Cycle A - August 7, 2011

We have in our Gospel story for today, the story of Jesus walking on the water.  
Have you ever known anyone who could literally walk on water?  Have you ever had the faith of Peter and stepped out of a boat and actually walked on the water?  I certainly have not and apparently many scripture scholars have not experienced it either.  
This is why, so often, you will read scripture commentaries that try to develop some sort of rational explanation for this story.  
~~>  Some have suggested that Jesus and the disciples were really not that far from shore, or that Jesus was walking on rocks.  
~~> There was even someone who suggested that there was a freak weather pattern that froze the Sea of Galilee into sheets of ice and Jesus walked to the disciples on sheets of ice.  
~~> There was at least one Catholic Scripture scholar, who because he could not find a rational explanation for this miracle, claimed the story was simply made up by the apostles after the Resurrection.  
None of these answers can be supported by the text of the Gospel.  The simplest answer for why Jesus could walk on water is also the most difficult to accept.  
The text of the Gospel said that the disciples explained this miracle with the only rational way to explain how someone could walk on water.  “Those who were in the boat did JESUS homage, saying “Truly, You are the Son of God.”  
C. S. Lewis in his book, Mere Christianity wrote about Jesus Christ that: 
"A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg - or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us."  
Note: I remember this quote of Lewis' by memorizing this simple 4 worded question, "Lunatic, Liar or God?"

At first, the disciples, did not grasp the real meaning of the event either!  At first, they tried to rationalize that it really could not be Jesus, so they said , “It must be a ghost.”  That would be easier to believe than that Jesus was actually walking on water.  After this long period of struggle, after their fear was increased by the image of what they thought was a ghost, they cried out and the Lord heard them.  “At once Jesus spoke to them, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."”  
Notice that Jesus did not say, “Hey guys it’s Jesus.” He said, “It is I.” How often do you knock on the door or pick up the telephone and say, “Hi, it’s me.”  But who is me?  You are hoping the person on the other end recognizes your voice.  Jesus was hoping that the disciples would recognize His voice.  But notice Jesus did not say, “It’s me” but “It is I” which in the original Greek reads simply “ego eimi” which is often translated “I AM.”  
“I AM” is the name which God gave to Himself when revealing Himself to Moses at the burning bush.   By saying “ego eimi”, “I AM,” Jesus was not only hoping for voice recognition from the disciples but faith recognition in Him as the Son of God.  Once Peter made that recognition in faith, he stepped out of the boat and onto the water.  
Peter was a fisherman.  He knew that humans could not walk on water.  He knew that it was impossible for him.  This is why “Peter said to Him in reply, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water."  
Pope Benedict once said that perhaps in teaching about the truths of the faith, we have lost the focus of the core teaching of the Church—Jesus Christ is God made man.  It is no wonder that when we fail to accept this central tenet of our faith, all the others seem fall apart.  
~~> Only because God became man in Jesus Christ, could His suffering and death have the power to free us from our sins.  
~~> Only because God became man in Jesus Christ, could He rise from the dead, as our model and hope for our own resurrection from the dead.  
~~> Only because God became man in Jesus Christ could He give us His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist.  
I know that Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, God made man, who gave up His earthly life so that I might receive eternal life.  I know that it is because Jesus is God made man that I can stand up here and pronounce the words of Jesus and change bread and wine into His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.  I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and I will live my life for Him.  Who do you say that Jesus is?

Source:  Homily by a lovely priest over at Roman Catholic Homilies

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