Friday, August 5, 2011

Homily: Walk on Water, Water Skiing

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…

I’ve always loved water skiing.  From the very first time I tried, I remember there is an amazing feeling that comes with that first moment when you defy gravity and begin to stand up and glide over the water.  Over the years I have loved to teach others to water ski and watch as they experience that same thrill and excitement. 

I think we forget what an amazing feat this is to “walk on water.”  Imagine the faith and courage it must have taken Peter to take those first few steps out of the boat.  What I have realized about teaching people water skiing is two things:  “It’s not as easy as it looks” and “You have to really want to do it.” 

I’ve watched as different people try to ski for the first time.  It takes a tremendous amount of energy both physical and psychological because it really is a very unnatural thing to have your body pulled up out of the water on two boards at 25 miles an hour.  I’ve learned that some people get discouraged really easy when they don’t get up their first time or lose their balance when they do.  The truth is however, it takes try after try after try to even get up our of the water.   Once you are out it takes a number of tries just to learn how to balance on the water… and then there’s the first time out of the wake and getting back in.  It’s not easy, but learning it is a great adventure. 

Over the years I have learned what it really takes to be able to get people out of the water and up on skis.  I know just what they need to do and just what the boat needs to do.  However, I’ve also learned that not all people are patient enough to realize that it is difficult and if they don’t really want it, they never really give it all the energy that is required to get up out of the water.  But for those that do have the desire, for those that are so persistent that they will try over and over and over again, they do get up, they do ski… they are able to “Walk on Water.” 

I think the same can be said about our Faith.  Sometimes we think that Peter tried to get up and walk on water, he sank, he failed, Jesus says “Oh, you of little faith” and that was that… We forget that at some point Peter did come to faith.  He must have realized that it was not as easy as it looked and he must have wanted it enough to keep on trying.  Walking on water is a great image for faith.  It is so unnatural, in fact it is supernatural.  It is so far beyond and above what we are capable of doing that we need to remember these two things… “It’s not as easy as it looks.”  And “You have to really want it.” 

So think about it for a moment.  We have Jesus at the helm… He knows exactly how to steer the boat for us, or calm the storms and he knows exactly what we need to be doing to “Walk on Water.”  He’s there to coach along the way and to reach his hand out to us when we “sink.”  But we must remember these two things… “It’s not as easy as it looks.”  And “You have to really want it.” 

First of all, faith, the ability to walk on water and live this mystical life “Is not as easy as it looks.”  To walk on water and to live the faith is in fact a tremendously difficult thing.  It is supernatural.  Sometimes we can look at some holy people and think… “How are they able to do it so easily?”  The truth is though that for them it has been a whole lifetime of learning.  It has been time after time of trying and sinking and being pulled up by the Lord.  Just as watching anyone who skis gracefully and makes it look easy, the same is true for one who leads a holy life.  It may seem easy and natural, but it took a tremendous amount of difficulty and coaching to get there.  Living this life of faith is not a one shot deal where we get up right away and never fall again.  No, like Peter, we will at times take our eyes off Christ and sink, but time and time again he reaches out to us and pulls us up.  So don’t get discouraged if it seems difficult… it is difficult.  And we have to use all of our energy… body, mind and spirit to get up and walk on water.  It’s not supposed to be easy, but when we do get it… what an amazing experience it is… even if only for a few steps.  Maybe you’ve fallen in your faith and gotten discouraged.  Give it another try, go ahead try once more to walk on water. 

The Second reality is “You have to really want it.”  I imagine Peter must have really wanted to walk on water when he said “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”  He told the Lord to “Command” him to come to him on the water.  He knew that only His command could give him the courage to take those steps off of the boat that he was so secure in.  He must have really wanted it if he not only called out, but stepped out of the boat.  I know right away that if someone doesn’t really want to get up on skis it’s going to be very difficult for me to get them up, because they have to want it.  The same is true for faith… Jesus is right now commanding us to walk on water and live this life of faith, but unless we want it, unless we really really want it, were never really going to give it what it takes to do the impossible.  Is there anything in you that is stirring in you right now?  Do you have any desire to live this life of faith?  Do you want to walk no water?  Do you want to take that step out of the boat? 

Are you willing to give it another try?  Maybe that means going to confession?  Maybe it means diving back into prayer?  Maybe it means picking up another book to learn about your faith?  See my blog for some of my favorites.  (You can also scroll down to “Online Sacristy” on the right for free online resources).    Maybe it is getting involved in something in your parish?  Maybe it is exploring the faith more if you are not Catholic and joining RCIA?  Maybe it is seeking direction from your priest or someone you know that is living the faith?   C

I’ve learned from water skiing and from living the faith these two things:  “It’s not as easy as it looks.”  And “You have to really want it.” 

When’s the last time you tried stepping out of the boat?  When’s the last time you walked on water?  Do you think that with Jesus you could give it another try?  Take another try and Walk on Water.

1 comment:

  1. Father Mike, We miss your Homilies. We miss you!!! God Bless you! Love, the Browns


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