19th SUNDAY OF YEAR A - Fr John's Homilies

Calming the seas


Fear, fury and rage at our helplessness, coupled to hope; these are the facts of our lives. The fury of the wind in the storm; the wind which is against the disciples leads them into fear. The disciples gaze upon the image of Jesus and see a spirit, a ghost and they are fearful. Peter gazes upon the wind and he also is fearful. Why does this ring strangely in my ears. Peter was not gazing upon the fury of the storm, but his gazing upon the wind and his fear overcomes his hope, overcomes his faith.


Throughout God’s revelation there are two things that are clear and are contained in the story of the wind as the Spirit of God. The wind is connected with God, with the Spirit of God; the Spirit of God that God breathes into us; the Spirit of God that hovers over the water, bringing order where there is chaos. Bringing something out of what should be nothing!
As a believer and a strong proponent of the Spirit of Wisdom and the wisdom of the Fathers and Mothers of ages past, something suddenly doesn’t sit right. It’s almost as though we’ve been digging ever more deeply into the same well of wisdom not recognising the sand trickling out of the hole in the bucket.

Looking upon the chaos and dreadful affairs of our land and our puppet leaders it appears that fear and faith have been disconnected from each other. Religion like faith has been stripped of its inherent value just as the gospel has been stripped of its flesh. Faith now bears a badge of honour; forged into awards for courage, valor, success.

Fear is no longer any part of our faith; fear has become the food of disordered appetites gazing into our “smart phones”. Fear is now the stuff of action movies, not stories about faith. We like stories where we beat fear, where we outsmart it, get the best of it. But white gut-wrenching fear is the stuff of the nightly news, which likes to begin with blood and gore, because the data shows we are drawn to that, because ratings go up when death is grisly and there are close-up shots; fear is all out there and I am safe within my high walls and electric fences. Fear is for those who are the losers; fear is for those who cannot afford their private armies and the security guards at the gates of their mansions.

Fear enrages us, so that our helplessness and desperation beat on the beaches of the waves of despair. Faith in Jesus is the antidote to this fear. It doesn’t prevent the conditions in which fear arises from occurring. Faith is not only a way of living, but it is also a way of dying. It is only when I am able to see beyond my own death into that life beyond death that truth becomes that value that truly sets me free.

Yes, we see the carrion of corruption, fear and fury around us, but the Truth does set us free. Jesus the Christ is the Truth that allows me Life beyond my death; that sees hope beyond my current despair and that sees an order beyond all who would seek the chaos of darkness. The Spirit of God has overcome primordial chaos and the spirit of God overcomes the fury that surrounds us.

This is not some simple and naive faith that believes that I am separate from the suffering around me, but rather a faith that leads me into the heart of the terror of history; to allow myself to become very “raw material”, the “staff” that is used to transform our world into a new kingdom. It is not my courage or my endurance that is used in this transformation; it is only my faith in the ultimate goodness and Love that resides in the heart of the Trinity. This is being true to myself in the image of God; the image who is the Incarnated Word of God. Everything else is but an illusion no matter how skilled the storytellers and the praise singers may be. Truth is symphonic! Lies always distort the harmony. The closer I am to the source of that “first note” that is God’s Word, the calmer the chaos around me becomes until the storm is calmed.