19th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

     Every spring graduates, are forced to sit at their graduation and listen to someone deliver the big commencement address. While these speeches often put you to sleep, every now and then one stands out for its brilliance. This year Chief Justice Roberts delivered a very unconventional yet insightful commencement address at his son’s high school graduation. He said, “now the commencement speakers will typically also wish you good luck and extend good wishes to you. I will not do that … From time to time … I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty… I hope you will be lonely … so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, … so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either. I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion. Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.”[1] Chief Justice Robert’s rightly warned those high school seniors that none of us is immune from the storms of life. While some of us have experienced way more pain and suffering than others, the chief justice correctly notes that the question is not if we will suffer, but rather how we will endure suffering.

     As the darkness of the storm rages around us, we often find ourselves trying to find something just to hold on to. Like the apostles in today’s Gospel we try to huddle in the ship hoping that it will not sink. Yet as we try to weather the storm it begins to seem like the storm only gets worse. Sure we may go about our life pretending that everything is ok, but eventually the storm becomes so dark that we either attempt something tragic like suicide or we reach out to someone for help.

     Often when our backs are up against the wall and we have nowhere else to turn ask God to stop the storm. But there are no quick fixes to the serious storms in our life and “no doctrine of escape is worth of God.”[2] Today’s Gospel teaches us that rather than asking God to end the storm, we need to ask another simple question, “where is God in all of this.” Just as Jesus came walking on the water to the apostles stuck on the boat in the middle of the storm, so too Jesus comes walking towards us in the storms of our life, but we can be so preoccupied by the storm, that we fail to recognize Him coming. Rather than focusing on a quick fix, we should focus on trying to find God in the darkness of the storm. Just as Jesus begged St. Peter, to jump over the side of the boat and come to Him, so too He calls us to jump out of the boat and walk towards Him. Literally He begs us to take a leap of faith. He challenges us to follow Him who is the way, the truth and the light through the storm.

     Did you notice that in today’s Gospel Jesus did not immediately calm the storm for His apostles? Rather He invited St. Peter to jump into the storm. As Peter jumps into the storm with his eyes focused on Christ, he begins to move through the storm, but the second he takes his eyes off of Jesus, he begins to sink.  But no matter how deep Peter sinks, Jesus doesn’t give up on Him, rather He extends His arm and invites Peter to focus back on Him and continue moving through the storm. It is only once the apostles welcome Jesus in that the storm dies down.

     While there is often a temptation to try and ride out the storms of life, the only option is to move through the storms. Anyone who has tried to weather a storm in their life knows, that the storm does not go away by ignoring it. Sure, we can ride it out for a while, but the longer we try to ride it out the harsher it becomes. Friends, the only way to remove the storms that come in life is to move through the storm. While this often takes allot of time and work and in the most serious storms of life can require the assistance of a professional counselor, if we keep our eyes fix on Christ as we move through the storm, we can have the confidence that we are not alone in the storm and if we begin to falter He will be there to hold out His hand and raise us up.

     Jesus shows us in today’s Gospel that He is never absent from us during the storms of our life. When storms rage, we need to step back and ask ourselves where Christ is in the midst of the storm and then run to Him. So, when the storms come in life, be like St. Peter. Take the leap of faith, focus on Christ and step into the storm trusting He will be there to life you up if you start to sink. Walk through the storm to Him where you will find healing and renewal.

[1] http://time.com/4845150/chief-justice-john-roberts-commencement-speech-transcript/

[2] Cardinal Albert Vanhoe. Our Priest is Christ. (1969) Pg 20

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