Monday August 1, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Numbers 11:4b-15 ) Gospel (St. Matthew 14:22-36)
We see in the readings today a contrast in the ways that we can approach situations in life. We have the Israelites out in the desert complaining, so Moses turns to the Lord and says, “Why do You treat Your servant so badly? If this is the way You’re going to treat me, then just do me the favor of killing me because I can’t handle it anymore.” Then we look at Peter in the Gospel reading today. He gets out of the boat and starts to walk. And he looks around and suddenly he begins to sink. The problem is that in both these situations these men were trying to do it pretty much themselves. They did not see beyond themselves that there could be a way that anything could happen.
Now if Peter would have just simply thought for a moment, the fact that he was walking on water was not something he could do all by himself anyway. Moses had gone up the mountain and he had received the commandments from God. He should have known better. Yet we see the humanness that is there because if we were honest we would all have to say that we have proven over and over again in our own lives that we cannot do it by ourselves. Yet, over and over, we keep trying to do it all by ourselves. We let God know that if we are backed into a corner and we cannot do anything else then we will call out to Him, just like Peter when he is sinking, crying out, “Lord, save me;” or Moses, when he cannot handle it anymore, then he will turn to the Lord and say, “I need some help here.”
We need to learn long before we are in that situation where we are sinking that we need to turn to God for help. There is no need to wait all the way until we are backed up against the wall. We need to turn to Him immediately and we need to seek to do it His way. That is the point we have to be able to understand. The people who came to Jesus to be healed at the end of the Gospel reading today, they understood they could not be healed themselves, and so they came just to touch the tassel on His cloak; and we are told that as many as touched it were healed. So it is that faith that God is going to take care of things and that we turn to Him and we reach out to Him and we seek His Will – and that is right from the beginning. That is the way it has to be in our lives.
If we are like the Israelites, we are going to grumble and complain because we did not get what we wanted. If we are going to be like Moses, we are going to be in trouble when it just gets too heavy for us, which you can be guaranteed there will be times when it is going to be just like that – and not just for a little bit of time – sometimes it goes on for day after day and week after week. It just seems crushing, and it is part of the way the Lord will help us to see that we cannot do this alone, that without Him we can do nothing. He purifies us this way and He helps us to be completely dependent on Him, not because He needs us to be dependent on Him, not because there is some ego trip, but because we need to be dependent on Him because without Him we can do nothing. Or we can be like Peter; we can say, “Oh, I’m going to trust in the Lord,” and out of the boat we go. Then as soon as we see the things going on around us, we take our eyes off of Jesus and we start to sink. And then when we are in trouble, we will call out to Him – and then we will actually make it His fault: “Why did You let me do this,” as though somehow it was He Who was lacking in faith. It is our own problem.
Or we can be like the people who came to Jesus. In simple faith, they simply reached out to Him and they were healed. They did not try to do it themselves. They did not have any other means. They simply acted in faith and they sought the Lord. That is precisely what we need to do as well. It does not have to be complicated because it is not. It is just very simple. In simple faith, we need to reach out to the Lord. We need to recognize that He is God and we are not, and that we are absolutely dependent on Him for everything. When we can reach out with that kind of faith, then we are going to see great things happening, not because we are looking for great things, but rather because we are simply relying on God. And He will take care of everything.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.