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19th Sunday in Ordinary Time - August 13, 2017

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          “At first I thought he was joking.  We were at a party, and right in front of me, it was as if he threw himself to the floor and started thrashing about as a joke.  Then I realized that he wasn’t joking.  I froze.  I was horrified.  Thank God there were people who knew what to do.   We got him to the hospital.  It all happened so fast.  From a normal life to learning that my husband Jim had a stage four inoperable brain tumor, and was given at best five years to live, was devastating when it sunk in.”

          These were the words of my best friend from high school back in 1991 or so.  She and Jim had been married at least 5 years.  He was a Captain in the Air Force and a pilot trainer; Melinda was also a Captain.  Disciples they were, sailing along in life’s proverbial boat of faith when it capsized. 

          Like so many faced with such horrible news, they had two choices – let this tragedy destroy their lives and tear them apart or bring them closer to God and to each other.  They chose the latter.  Melinda explained to me that they had grown apart to the point that they had discussed divorce.  But Jesus came to them in this tragedy and brought them closer. They, who once decided to have no children, had two beautiful sons.  Jim lived not five years, but 13.  They both were given medical retirements and lived together, building their dream house in Ogden, UT.

          We know all too well that Jesus never promised his disciples a life of smooth sailing.  Elijah knew that.  Paul knew that.  The Apostles experienced that too.  Jesus demonstrates to us as he did in today’s Gospel that as long as we don’t jump ship, he will come to us and calm the storms in our lives.  He may not come as we expect.  He may not come when we call on him. (Jesus came walking on the water in the FOURTH WATCH OF THE NIGHT!)  But he will come, and we will know the peace and healing that we long for!

Joan Chittister wrote the following: “God is in the contradictions that assail us, in the circumstances that challenge us, in the attitudes that impel us, in the life goals that demonstrate our real aspirations, in the burdens that wear us down, in the actions that give witness to the values in our heart.  God is in the stuff of life.  God is where we are, including in the very weaknesses that vie for our souls.” Peter gives us hope in that his heart is a mixture of courage and anxiety, where anxiety wins out in today’s Gospel as he sinks into the sea.  Yet, Jesus does not give up on us as he didn’t give up on Peter.  Jesus may think to himself, “O you of little faith, why did you falter?”  But, he will always reach out his hand to us, and pick us up out of our grief and fears and heal our wounded hearts.