How to Walk on Water
#HowToWalkOnWater is the podcast for Aug 13, 2017. Jesus calls us to get out of the boat and walk on the water to him. When you put all the pieces together in the context of Christian worship and living the Christian life, it all makes sense. Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone. #Matthew14 #CoMingling #Water #Wine #humanity #divinity #holyliving #Discipleship #Trust #Tithe #BibleReading #Prayer #Renewal
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For The Church of St. Raphael the Archangel, Munster, IN and My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 8/13/2017 The 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Matthew 14:22-33.
When the priest prepares the cup for the celebration of the Eucharist, he takes the cup of wine, then a cruet of water, and pours some water in the wine. When he does that he says, “By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbles himself to share in our humanity.” The passage from the Gospel of Matthew today is more than just us crying out to Jesus and him reaching down to lift us out of trouble, whatever trouble it is. It is so much more. The different aspects of what is represented is just too much to choose from.
First, after feeding the five thousand Jesus sends the disciples out in the boat as he goes up the mountain to pray to the Father. Everyone agrees in the scholarship that this is symbolic of how Jesus sends the apostles out in a boat, which represents the church, into a sea, which is dark, foreboding, and tumultuous, representing evil, as he goes to pray for us. We say in the creed, “He is seated at the right hand of the Father,” and in the Gloria, “receive our prayer.” Jesus, up atop the mountain, closest to the Father, is praying for the church which is on the waves of an evil sea. A sea that swallows us up and kills us when we get out, unless, that is, we are called by the One who is not impacted by the evil waves of the sea. He is the one who can walk across the waves that the passage from Matthew says, “tortures the boat”.
It is from the safety of the Church, the boat, that Peter asks and then is called to go to Jesus on the waves. It is when he, as the Greek says, “vascilates,” when he starts to wonder if the waves can kill him or Jesus will sustain him, that he starts to sink. That is when he cries out in the prayer as old as time, “Lord, save me!”
What we have here is an invitation by Jesus Christ, inspired by our enthusiastic faith, to join him in doing what only God can do: walk on water.
If you haven’t missed it, it is the evil in the world that tears people down. That evil is the waves of the sea. It is the world that thinks bombs and weapons are the answer; these are the waves of the sea. It is economic systems that create great disparities of income that are the waves of the sea. It is men who degrade women and women who fight back by putting down men who are the waves of the sea. It is the lure of sexual gratification that cheapens us that is the waves of the sea. It is the lie of the euphoria of drugs and the numbing of alcohol that are the waves of the sea. It is the lying, the constant lying, and dishonesty that we put before one another that are the waves of the sea. It is the lack of honor with which we talk about each other and treat each other that are the waves of the sea. If you notice, not one of these waves is sent by the Father in Heaven. Not one wave, not one drop of this sea from Matthew’s Gospel, is the desire of the Father in Heaven.
It is a boat that rescues humanity from the waves of sin that the Lord sends out into the night. It is the church that the Lord sends out into these dark waves. When the night seems darkest, when it seems like there is no use and we ought to throw up our hands, we look out on the tempestuous waves and the Lord Jesus invites us to walk toward him. He, in his humanity, is doing the thing that only God can do-walking on the waves. He invites us to share in his divinity by getting out of the boat and walking to him. “By the mystery of this water and wine…”
Every Sunday, we come and get in the boat of the Church. We pray together, we sit in the safety of the boat together worshiping the Lord. Then, during the week, we get out of the boat in our workplaces, our families, our friendship circles, and in the world overall. As we walk in these venues in the sea, we are called to walk on the water. We do.
We walk on water when we tell the truth when a lie would be easier. We walk on water when we do a kindness to someone that is having a horrible day. We walk on water when we say, “I love you.” We walk on water when we serve the poor. We walk on water when we tithe. We walk on water when we protect our bodies from sin. We walk on water when we refuse to gossip. We walk on water when we defend someone’s humanity. We walk on water when we bind the wounds of those hurt by war, famine, neglect, and abuse. We walk on water when we pray daily and read our Bibles. We walk on water when we travel to Church. We walk on water when we remember that through our baptism we were made part of Jesus Christ and we are children of the Most High God. We walk on water, again, when we remember who we are, and Whose we are.
When we walk on water, we are like Jesus. We are divine. We are living the Kingdom of Heaven on top of the waves of a sinful world. A world that is loved by God through us, but doesn’t know it is loved. We come to share in the divinity of Jesus by walking on the water as he comes to us sharing in our humanity.
It is when we vascilate between whether following what we say we believe is the right way to go and following the ways of the world that we sink in the waves. It is when we think that no one sees us. It is when we think it is OK to tell a little lie. It is when we think it is OK to break our vows, a little. It is when we think it is OK to neglect our prayer life or Bible readings, etc. It is when we think it is OK, that we sink. When we vascilate between whether we ought to do what God wants us to do and what the world wants us to do, then we sink.
Yet, when that happens, does Jesus say, “You of little faith, you are not worthy to be with me?” Does he say, “You are awful and are going to hell?” No, he reaches down, picks us up, and invites us to continue walking on the water with him again. The one who prays on the mountain for us, the one who beckons us to walk on the water with him, is also the one who saves us from the waves when we fail. It is why we have the repeatable Sacrament called “Reconciliation” or “Confession.”
Lastly, I feel the need to remind us that we have to stop thinking that following Jesus Christ will make our lives smooth, trouble free, and full of positive thinking (cough *Joel Osteen* cough). When we follow Christ, all the powers of hell break loose to tip our boat over. The waves “torture” us. I have no idea where we got the idea that when we follow someone who was nailed to the Cross that our fate in the same world would be different. Yet, we follow because we know there is a Lord who prays for us, leads us, redeems us, and comforts us on this mission to renew the face of the earth, are fulfilling our calling to be divine.
As you leave church this day, you are getting out of the boat. You are going to walk on torturing waves. You are going to follow Christ. When you do, you will fulfill the mission of the Kingdom of God to renew the face of the earth. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2017.
Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian