Walking on water: everybody does it!

Homily for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's liturgy)

Audio for Homily

Have you ever heard of the basilisk lizard?
It’s found in Central America and it’s sometimes called
the “Jesus Christ lizard,”
because this lizard can literally walk,
well, run on the water’s surface!

With its two long feet and flaps of skin between its toes
a basilisk can run upright on the water
for 10-15 yards before sinking.

Seems to me that nicknaming the basilisk “the Jesus Christ lizard”
is a mistake - it ought to be called the “St. Peter lizard.”

Jesus walked on water just fine, with no problems.
It was Peter who walked on water just for a few yards --
but then, in fear, began to sink.

How about you?

Have you ever walked on water?

And don’t be too quick to say that you haven’t!

One spiritual writer has suggested that every bride and groom
who ask God’s blessing on their marriage
are accepting the Lord’s invitation, as did Peter, to walk on water.

Peter stepped out of a boat,
a bride and groom take a few steps down the aisle,
walking on the water of a future totally unknown to them.

And for most couples, it won’t be too long until troubles
threaten the security of their “love boat” and they’ll be asked
to walk on the waters of stormy times.

Of course, you don’t have to be married to understand
what it means to walk in faith,
to step out of the safety of your boat and onto the water
trusting that the Lord will help you walk even those steps
that seem impossible to take.

People walk on the water all the time!

You’ve done it, I’ve done it, we all know people who have done it.

We all know the experience
of walking a path we thought impossible, or impassible
and then looking back and seeing where we began,
where we’ve come
and wondering: how did I make it?

And of course, sometimes like the lizard, like St. Peter,
we become frightened along the way:
I can’t do it! I can’t make it!
This is too much for me! I’m afraid!
I don’t have enough faith! I’m not strong enough!
My belief isn’t deep enough! I don’t want to try anymore!

-- And we begin to sink.

And immediately Jesus stretches out his hand and catches us.

He reaches to help us, inviting us to take his hand,
even when, like Peter, afraid with failing faith, we doubt him.

So, some questions…

When was the last time some storm in my life
gave me an opportunity to walk in faith
to walk on waters deep and threatening?
Did I hear the Lord say, “Come”?
Did I take a step beyond the security of the known and familiar?
Did I have faith, did I at least have hope

that the Lord would guide my steps and make them sure?

Or have there been times when I’ve looked back
at where I’ve come from, at the troubles I’ve traversed,
and wondered,
“How did I do that? How did I get from there to here?

Have I looked back on the troubled waters I’ve walked
and only then realized,
“Without God’s help, I could have never made it to where I am"?
Is there some storm in my life right now that threatens my path?
Are there troubled waters I need to cross?
Waters I need to walk on?
Do I need the Lord’s help? the Lord’s hand?
Do I need to trust that the Lord will help me to safety?

Barely a day goes by that the Lord doesn’t invite each of us,
in some way, to walk on water:
to trust where he calls us to go, the path he sets for our journey.

Many are the days when each of us takes at least a small, tentative step,
in faith, walking on the troubled waters of our lives.

And if we look behind us, each of us will likely see a life’s journey
in which we’ve walked on stormy water many times,
times in which we’ve been afraid and started to sink,
times when the Lord has helped us make safe passage.

For the times we’ve walked on water,
let’s thank God who gave us the courage to take even one step.

For times when the Lord carried us through our stormy days and nights,
let’s praise him for his mercy.

And for the times the Lord rescued us when we were sinking,
let’s praise God
whose arm is always longer and stronger than our own.

We’re gathered now, not in a boat, not on the water,
but on this island of prayer, at this altar of praise,
where the One who bids us walk on the water
gathers us in the shadow of the Cross,
where he walked on the waters of death,
and passed over to life forever.

Here, the steps of our journey bring us to the table of Eucharist,
where Christ nourishes our faith
and gives us the trust we need to step out of our boats
when he says to each of us, in our storm-tossed lives,
“Come… walk on the water with me!”

H/T to Phil at Blue Eyed Ennis for the video link!

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  1. I can't begin to reflect how much this insight has meant in my faith life -- today and over the past weeks.

    For this homily, and today's Monday Offering -- In gratitude -- Amen...

  2. I also loved the homily & the Monday offering......meant a lot to me.


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