Peter and the storm

A preacher relates an experience of turbulence while aboard an aircraft. The pilot announces an oncoming storm that would give the aircraft a very tough time. He is still speaking when the storm arrives, and the turmoil is extremely distressing as the plane battles in mid-air.

The impending air disaster devastates everyone as people keep screaming and making endless supplications to their respective subjects of creed. Amid the frenzy is a girl of about seven years who appears unperturbed as she holds onto her story book.

The preacher could not understand the calm disposition of the little, and he decides to keep cool because he is as worried everyone. Thanks to God the turbulence comes to a stop.

When it was conducive enough to have a conversation, the preacher approaches the little girl to ask her why she did not worry when the aircraft was in turmoil. She replies and says that the pilot is her dad and he often tells her that storms sometimes come during flight but they also pass and the journey continues. The preacher prods her further and asks, “so you believe that your dad will get the aircraft through the storm and the girl replies and says “Yes! He does that every time this is not the first time”. What a firm faith in an earthly father!

The First Reading (1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a) tells us about Elijah’s appointment with God at Mount Horeb. God gives him a command to stand out and await His coming. We could recall that during Elijah’s last encounter, God answers Him by fire (1 Kings 18:38). Hence, standing there at Mount Horeb he looks out for a violent manifestation of God. But he is wrong. God decides to come in using a gentle wind. The message Elijah learns here is that God takes us through the turbulence and meets us at the end of it. His presence could calm every storm; no matter the magnitude.

The Gospel Reading (Matt. 14:22-33) gives us a more vivid picturesque of God’s timely intervention in the storm situations of our lives. After the dinner that catered for five thousand men, excluding women and children, our Lord Jesus Christ asks his disciples to go over to the other side of the lake by boat while he goes to pray.

While on their way to the other side, the disciples meet a great storm and it was night and dark. As they battle with the waves, Jesus Christ comes to them walking on water, and they are terrified mistaking him to be a ghost.

Our Lord identifies himself, but the disciples are still in doubt. At this point, Peter extends a challenge: “Lord if it is you command me to come to you on the water.” When he gets the command, he started walking to him on the water. However, when he shifts his focus from the Lord to the waves, he begins to sink. Then he cries out “Lord save me!” And the Lords saves while calling him a man of little faith. As they get into the boat, the storm dies down.

A brief analysis of the events would help us to understand the message beneath. Our Lord tells them to move over to the other side while he goes to pray. What could be the reason for going over to the other side and what could be the content of his prayer?

The Gospel of Matthew (14:34-36) tells us that when they arrive at the other side, Jesus heals ALL who were sick and ALL who touched the fringe of his cloak experience healing. Here we see a very outstanding miracle of healing different from other instances in the Gospels. In a single day, ALL the sick receive healing.

We understand now that the going over to the other side is a mission for healing. It is a task that also requires prayer especially against oppositions like the storm in the middle of the night and lack of faith in the presence of the Messiah.

Let us turn our reflection on Peter, the principal actor in the narrative. When our Lord tells them that he is the one walking on water and not a ghost, Peter asks him to COMMAND him to come to him. I love Peter for calling for a command. Sometimes we do not wait for God to command before we act. The word of God says: “So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or the left.” (Deut. 5:32).

When Peter gets the command to come to the Lord, he moves. He keeps going to him until he gets distracted by the stormy waves and decides to shift his gaze. As soon as his focus changes his position begins to change as he goes down; almost lost in the water. At this point, our Lord’s rescues him and points out that his little faith is the cause of his failure.

Like Peter, we all have faith. Like him also we often lose our faith when we face some turbulence or when we find ourselves in the eye of the storm. We are familiar with the definition of faith as the assurance of things we hope and conviction of stuff we have not seen (Heb. 11:1). These let us know that faith is a perspective and needs focus.

In the narrative, we discover that when Peter’s perspective changes he loses his focus and begins to go down. It is at this point that our Lord rescues him and calls him a man of little faith.

The message today gives us a perfect opportunity to access our faith quotient in the face of various storms in our lives. Storms come in different shapes and sizes. Some could be facing health storms; some have marriage or relationship storms, some may be grappling with financial storms, for others it could be a job, career, or academic storms. All of them have one common characteristic; they do not last and mostly when we confront them with our faith perspective and keep our focus on God.

God needs us to show Him our faith, and He would show us his faithfulness. You have a choice before any storm in your life either to faith it and make it or fear it and fail it!

I wish you a beautiful Sunday and more graces upon you in the week ahead.

Fr. Bonnie.

3 responses to “FAITH, IN THE EYE OF THE STORM! HOMILY FOR THE 19TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR A) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.”

  1. Dear Fr. Bonnie Anusiem, I thank you sincerely from my heart for this wonderful work of spreading the gospel through the social media and internet. I am proud of you. From the time I knew you in Seat of Wisdom Seminary Owerri, I had always known you will make a wonderful priest. Please keep it up. Know it that your homilies online really help me to shape my homilies every Sunday. God bless you abundantly.
    Rev. Fr. Tony Ujagbo(Archdiocese of Owerri)


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