Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World prior to a given Sunday. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time | August 9/10, 2014
PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading.
What were you thinking?
Now, as one of three boys, I heard this phrase a lot when I was a kid . . .
I remember hearing it after we got the brilliant idea to take a citronella candle, melt it down and turn it into torches and flaming arrows.
And then there was the time we invented a game of how far could we throw someone’s sneaker onto the carport roof before mom caught them.
And of course, we inevitably heard it after we decided to host wrestling matches in the living room and accidentally put a hole through the wall.
And every time we heard our parents ask this question, we knew what they thought of our brilliant schemes. They viewed them as crazy.
Now, I will be the first to give my parents credit. Most of our childhood antics were crazy.
But other situations in life are not so clear cut.
Take Peter for example . . .
What was he thinking?
Let’s remember my friends. Human beings don’t typically walk on water.
And this wasn’t exactly calm seas.
So what would possess him to step out onto it? Was he crazy? Or did he glimpse something more?
I believe that our Gospel answers this question . . .
As Matthew describes the scene, Peter is never portrayed as crazy. On the contrary, Peter is gently challenged to have more faith, to go all the way. As if walking on the water was totally normal.
As I hear this scene described, I cannot help but think of all those times in which we ask ourselves, what are we thinking?
Parents at the birth of their first child. Cradling this helpless bundle of life that is now entrusted to their care. Knowing that they are now responsible for this other person.
Brides and grooms moments before they walk into the Church. Knowing that they are about to join their future, their destinies together.
The mom who gives up the career that she loves to stay home with her kids.
The college student who decides to postpone graduate school for a year to join AmeriCorp.
The adult child who chooses to let mom move in with her.
The teacher who chooses to work in the inner city and turns down a better paying offer from the nearby suburban district.
The people who keep coming to Church every Sunday even though they often feel the Church does not want them because of who they are, what they believe or what they have done.
Every time we ask ourselves this question in life, there will be people quick to answer it.
You’re crazy . . .
Don’t you know that odds are against you?
Why would you assume that kind of risk?
You’re never going to be able to do it.
Why would you want to do it?
What a waste.
You deserve better.
And maybe they’re right. Maybe we are a little crazy when we step out of the boat.
But I believe that it is a craziness born of faith, not madness.
A craziness that actually believes in the goodness of other people. That sees children of God in slums and cells and in “bad neighborhoods”
A craziness that believes in putting people over possessions. That finds value in changing the world instead of simply making it according to the standards of the world.
A craziness that believes we can commit to one another. That despite our imperfections, our failures and our sinfulness, we can be good parents, spouses, siblings, friends.
A craziness that trusts in God as we move out onto the water. A craziness that is not afraid to cry out for help when we are assailed with doubts or grief, anger or fear.
A craziness that believes that God reaches out to each of us to reassure us that He is there.
In the hand that grabs us and pulls us above the waves,
In the caress of a child’s fingers across our cheek
In the wrinkled calluses that stroke our hand as we sit by the bedside
In the hugs that feel timeless.
In the kiss that marks another anniversary.
In the fist pump from the kid who gets it.
What are we thinking, my friends?
I don’t know about you, but I think it is time for me to step out of the boat.
May God be Praised.
Image courtesy of http://www.cruzblanca.org/hermanoleon/