August 10, 2008, Year A
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reflections on the Readings
By Dennis Hankins
Theme: Beginning to Sink
And the men marveled, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him." (Matthew 8:27)
This event in today's Gospel ends with the confession of the storm tossed disciples saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." So the disciples amazement in Matthew 8:27 becomes worship and adoration in Matthew 14:33.
Jesus not only calms the storms, but he walks in the midst of the storms. It is more difficult to see Jesus in the middle of the storm tossed sea. The disciples were horrified. They cried out, "It's a ghost!" Then from the midst of the storm that familiar voice says, "Be not afraid, I AM."
As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus the sea beneath him was paved. The moment he took note of the wind, he began to sink.
We are admonished in scripture not to be tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine. We begin to sink when we embrace thoughts and behavior or whatever else that is contrary to sound doctrine. Many churches in my lifetime have voted to make many ancient truths of faith into some meaningless pablum. It happens slowly at first. An adjustment here and there and before you know it babies die in the womb, the invalid are starved and the elderly are neglected. Keeping up with the times and being politically correct is the mission of those who are departing from the deposit of faith. The frog in the pot helps us understand this. At first the frog doesn't notice that the water he's in is starting to warm up. Slowly the temperature increases, but still the frog is unaware of the impending danger of being boiled to death. Finally the water begins to boil and the life of the frog is finally snuffed out.
Neglecting the gift of salvation given at Baptism imperils the believer. To keep from sinking we must discern the spirits that desire our allegiance. Always we must live up to our baptism. But alas some have departed from the faith having loved this present world. Anything that gets between us and Jesus can become bigger than Jesus. Take an inventory of your life and see if anything makes the Lord's day just another day in your week. And let us consider how to stir one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. The common experience of the baptized is being baptized. Worshipping together as the community of the baptized is the natural event of the baptized. To be a Christmas and Easter only Christian is to neglect the great gift of God given you in Baptism. It is to miss the weekly experience of the Eucharist and to miss growing in faith together with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Christianity is more than just 'me and Jesus.' We need each other and cannot be complete in Christ without one another. Many are sinking and don't know they are drowning in a sea of good intentions and holy things but have never tasted for themselves that the Lord is good.
Jesus is not another truth. He is the way, the truth and the life. We will sink like a lead pellet if Jesus is only a good man among many. Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today and forever was the powerful affirmation of the early Church. It was momentous to have been with Jesus. Worshipping in the caves and dens of the earth early Christians tested every spirit. Every spirit that did not confess that Jesus was come in the flesh from the Father by the Holy Spirit in the Womb of Mary was anti-Christ. This was and is the faith of the Church. Everything we believe as Christians about life and the life to come hinges on the incarnation. Those who seek to accommodate the spirit of the age are sinking into a world of fear and unbelief. There is nothing new about modern times. Doubt and unbelief and resistance to the truth have existed since the Garden of Eden. However, in these last days, God has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
Today let us be as docile to Jesus and his will as are the winds and waves.
Let us pray: Holy Spirit assist me that I may ever keep my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith. Anoint my eyes to see the Lord in all of humanity. Eating and drinking the body and blood of Jesus, make my faith strong so that I may say Amen with all that is within me. And in the time of trial keep me from sinking into self preservation. Make me a faithful witness of all that I have seen and heard, even Jesus. Amen.