Today Catholic Christians celebrate the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
On this day, we hear the interesting story of the disciples in a boat at sea. It was at nighttime, and a storm was raging. Their boat was being tossed about by the waves, and the disciples were very afraid.
Suddenly, they saw a figure walking on the sea toward them, and the vision terrified them. Then they heard Jesus say, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter, not satisfied that it really was Jesus, said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” When Jesus commanded Peter, he indeed began walking on the water to Jesus. However, when Peter saw how strong the wind was, he began to sink. Jesus saved him, however, and criticized him for his lack of faith.
This story is about faith or, rather, a lack of faith. But it is also about something else; it is about humans’ testing God. Often, like Peter, we ask God for a “sign” to tell us what to do with our lives. We lack faith in ourselves, and we try to put the burden on God. God, however, can work through us just as much as he works through others.
Before discussing a few Biblical principles about faith, let’s look at the following story called, “Is Your Hut On Fire?”
There was once a shipwreck at sea, and the only survivor was a young man who washed up on a small, uninhabited island. The young man prayed fervently to God to send someone to rescue him, and every day he would scan the horizon for help, but none seemed to be forthcoming.
Finally, the young man decided to build himself a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements and to store the few possessions he still had. Then one day, after searching for food, he arrived back at his hut only to find it in flames, the smoke rolling up into the sky. Everything the young man owned was lost.
Naturally, he was filled with anger and grief and discouragement. He cried out to God, “How could you do this to me!”
Early the next day, however, he heard the sound of a ship approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. When he asked how the ship knew he was on this isolated island, the crew replied, “We saw your smoke signal.” So, while the young man had thought that his hut burning down was bad news, it was actually good news, for others interpreted it as a smoke signal, a call for help.
All of us have experienced things we thought were bad news in our lives, only to discover, at a later date, those “bad news” events were actually good ones for us in the long term. Perhaps it was a love relationship that ended, or not getting a particular job we wanted, or not being accepted into the school we wanted. Later, we discovered that God had a different door to open for us, a door to a room filled with amazing riches.
So, when we experience negative things in our lives, we need only to look at what God tells us in the Sacred Scriptures. For example:
When we say, “It’s impossible,” God says, “All things are possible” (Luke 18: 27);
When we say, “I’m too tired,” God says, “I will give you rest” (Mt 11: 28-30);
When we say, “Nobody loves me,” God says, “I love you” (John 13: 34);
When we say, “I can’t go on,” God says, “My grace is sufficient” (2 Cor 12: 9);
When we say, I can’t figure things out,” God says, “I will direct your steps” (Proverbs 3: 5-6);
When we say, “I am not able,” God says, “I am able” (Philippians 4: 13);
When we say, “It’s not worth it,” God says, “It will be worth it” (Romans 8: 28);
When we say, “I can’t forgive myself,” God says, “I forgive you” (Romans 8: 1);
When we say, “I can’t manage,” God says, “I will supply all your needs” (Philippians 4: 19);
When we say, “I’m not smart enough,” God says, “I give you wisdom (1 Corinthians 1: 30);
When we say, “I’m always worried and frustrated,” God says, “Cast all your cares on me” (1 Peter 5: 7);
When you say, “I don’t have enough faith,” God says, “I’ve given everyone a measure of faith” (Romans 12: 3);
And when we say, “I am all alone,” God says, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13: 5).
Today you and I are called like Peter was to examine our faith. Here are three Biblical principles we should keep in mind when examining our faith.
First, faith is a belief in what we cannot see. Things we cannot see often lead to doubt, and doubt is normal and not something we should concern ourselves. Even great saints like Ignatius of Loyola had doubts. He prayed, “Lord, help me in my unbelief.”
Second, God’s mind is infinitely greater than ours. It is true folly trying to use our weak human logic to understand the mind of God. That is where trust or faith enters the picture.
Third, it is always a good idea to pray for an increase in faith.
And that is the good news I have for you on this Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2017.
Story source: Anonymous. “Is Your Hut Burning?” Inspire21.com.