I think Jesus is inviting all of us into this sacred space that He once invited Simon Peter to step out into. It is the space between…between the boat and Jesus…between letting go and being taken hold of…between the familiar and the new and unknown…between control and agenda and dependence and detachment. It is a space that is both completely terrifying and unbelievably exciting. It is the space before your answer has come or our problem has been fixed.
– Lindsay Tharpe
The readings for the nineteenth Sunday in ordinary time cycle A can be found here.
The scripture scholar will tell you that there were many myths in the Jewish tradition recorded in the Old Testament where God overcomes certain death on the waters. Scholar John Paul Heil coined the phrase “sea rescue epiphanies” to define this genre of story.
In this Gospel reading the dangerous winds are interpreted to represent the hostile forces that were against the Matthean community. Matthew calls out Peter specifically to represent the community and how the doubts of the community can be answered by having courage and faith. It is scary to step out into the unknown future and make yourself vulnerable to what might be out there. Jesus’ message of courage and faith was good for the Matthean community, and ours as well.
I thought I would go to the local parish Mass. We were reminded about seven times during the homily what sinners we were, how unworthy we were. All these educated people in this upper-class parish, largely professionals or retired, just sat there, numbly taking this, largely poker faced. Right at the end, he reminded them, of course, that he would be hearing confessions and take care of their sinfulness. Consciously or unconsciously he built a dependency system on himself and taught them helplessness. He did not empower us as Christians.
– Richard Rohr
Jesus did not tell Peter to stay in the boat. Peter received encouragement to step onto the water’s surface. Jesus encouraged Peter to be courageous and perhaps make a mistake. Making mistakes help us to learn and grow. The Church hierarchy needs to take a lesson from Jesus from this Gospel and encourage people to step out onto the surface of the water. Our lesson from this Gospel is to have courage to break out of the helplessness imposed by the Church hierarchy and grow from making mistakes. Have faith.
my view is, as a kind of simple principle, that we’ve got to treat adults as adults in the Church. We now have in the United States the most educated laity the Catholic Church has confronted in 2,000 years of history. You can’t have a situation where men and women are in charge of their lives, treated as adults in corporations, universities, and politics, and are not treated as adults inside the Church… I do think that there’s a range of definable, discussible issues on which the laity need to say at the parish level and every other level, we simply won’t accept anything except adult conversation.
– Fr. J. Bryan Hehir
If you want your children to grow up into mature adults you have to teach them the skills to navigate society and then let them go. The same goes for our faith. Church leaders need to allow people to grow up. Peter was being groomed for leadership of God’s community and Jesus encouraged him to take risks and make mistakes. That should be our model.
If you take one thing away from this homily it should be to have the courage of Peter to step out into the unknown even if you have not been given permission by the hierarchy. Demand to be treated as an adult. Some people want to stay hidden and protected by the helplessness imposed by Church leaders, but that is not what Jesus asks of us. Jesus wants more from us and we should want more of ourselves.
Again, one preparing to sail and about to voyage over raging waves
calls upon a piece of wood more fragile than the ship that carries him.
For it was desire for gain that planned that vessel,
and wisdom was the artisan who built it;
but it is your providence, O Father, that steers its course,
because you have given it a path in the sea,
and a safe way through the waves,
showing that you can save from every danger,
so that even a person who lacks skill may put to sea.