Homily – 19th Sunday Ordinary Time

How many of us have ever used the phrase, “It’s like rearranging the deck furniture on the Titanic.” How many of us have that sinking feeling. A good amount of the time that the ship is going down or that we’re in over our heads? In what? What’s over our heads? Well, usually our association is with water.

After last night’s storm, water can cause serious trouble, especially if you live in Queens County right now. But what we always know is that there is hope. Even though the waters may seem rough at times, even though we think we’re in over our heads, don’t we know that there is always someone there to throw us the lifeline? You know, the that little round float that will keep us on top of the water.

Each and every one of us knows that there is always hope. Now, why is it that water gives us so much trouble? Why is it that we have so many expressions about the ocean, about a lake, or about to see where people get lost who don’t know what to do? Or those, unfortunately, who go down with this ship?

Think also how many times we say we’re up a creek? What creek? What’s happening here? When we think about it, our scriptures are filled with water images. And usually the water is a place of danger. But for those of us who are followers of Christ Jesus, we have another experience of water. We have been baptized in the saving waters.

And those waters gave us new life in Christ and made us members of the church. For us, water is life giving. Water is never a threat. Water is for us the way we are saved. Isn’t it amazing that for every water image we have that’s dangerous, we, the Church, have a water image that is saving in Christ Jesus.

Now fear is still fear. And water also creates a certain amount of chaos. Now, I am an expert on chaos. I create it wherever I go, whether it is out of control or whether it’s just a little chaos. We know that we have someone who can always bring order to the troubled waters. That is God, our father, who always amazes us because he is Lord, even over the chaos.

So when we look at the images of salvation, we have to stop and ask ourselves. What does it mean to say that in the waters of baptism we are saved, that God our father always saves us? Well, in Scripture it’s really very easy. God always saves us. That’s it. Wherever we look, we know that the Lord, our God is there.

For example, in the desert, when the early community was wandering around, who sent the manna God when they were thirsty? Who gave them water? God, God always saves. And in the Psalms, we read Save Me God. For the waters have reached my neck. Or the great cause of death. Surge round about me. The menacing flood terrifies me. Well, God reaches down and raises us up just like he did our early ancestors, the patriarch, the matriarchs, the prophets, the chosen people.

And in today’s Gospel from Matthew, we truly are given the blueprint for what it means to be a disciple. A disciple walks in the light of Christ, and the disciple always knows that Jesus saves. And so here we are, given the example of Peter. Sometimes he gets a bum rap. Now we can all look at something negatively or positively.

We could say that Peter lacks faith. So he says. Or we could say when Jesus calls to Peter. Peter says, If it’s you, Lord, let me know and I’ll be right there. What does Jesus say? Come. One word. Peter gets out of the boat and begins to walk on the water.

But what happens? As we say in Brooklyn, he got scared. Fear took over. How many of us have heard Jesus say. Come to me. Started to follow. And then got scared. How many of us let fear get in the way of our faith? But here, Peter doesn’t stop. He doesn’t like chaos. Fear. Take over. No. He reaches out his hand to the Lord and says, Save me.

Because he knew deep in his heart Jesus would save him. In those moments of fear, do we reach out our hand, positive that Jesus will save us? All of this speaks very well of Peter and teaches us how to behave when we’re in over our heads. When it looks like we’re rearranging the deck furniture on the Titanic. When simply put, we’re afraid.

We have just to say Jesus will save us. And there he will be to reach out his hand, take ours, and lift us up. Peter is more than just an actor in today’s gospel. He is the Rock, the Church. He is each and every one of us. And each and every one of us being human will become afraid.

But we have been washed in the saving waters of baptism. We are immortal. We’re not vulnerable. We are invincible in Christ Jesus. The storm last night, for an example, may frighten us. The sea could very well swallow us up. These are factors that are just part of reality. The challenge is to live boldly. Our encounter with Christ never let the danger overwhelm us with fear.

All we have to do is be willing to get out of the boat. Our hearts may be pounding. Our minds may be racing. But our eyes are always fixed on Christ Jesus. And so the next time we are tempted to say, I’m rearranging the deck furniture on the Titanic, or I’m in over my head. All we have to do is think about Peter.

All we have to do is reach out our hand to Jesus, who will lift us up. Because this is the same Jesus who lifted up Peter. It is the same Jesus yesterday, today and forever.