Homily of Sunday July 30th 2023
Mt 13.22-34 (Jesus and Peter Walk on Water)
Glory to Jesus Christ!
You are the holy temple of God, says St Paul today. Do you not know that God's Spirit dwells in you? Our Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation of the temple, its cornerstone, and each of us is entrusted with construction work of this temple whom we are, and God’s fiery coming will judge the solidity of the construction work we do. In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus, our good shepherd, by a succession of actions giving occasion for his apostles to put to test the solidity of their construction work on the temple whom they are. They have all just been first rank witnesses of great miracles that Jesus has performed, the last of which is the multiplication of the bread and the fish for the 5000 without counting the women and the children. First action, Jesus forces them away from the finishing touches of the amazingly successful event, engaging them in the challenge of crossing the sea by boat, by night, without him present. Jesus knows that they will unexpectedly meet with a rising contrary wind. We too, in one form or another, undergo unexpected contrary winds without perceiving a consoling presence of Jesus at our side, but rather the growing evidence that contrary forces are overpowering us. Jesus sends the apostles all together in the boat, like he sends us to this
community. The boat in which we are now is represented by this beautiful wooden temple. In many ways, this temple, at this hour, is a very secure and privileged place in which to be, but we know well that our boat is in the sea of our lives, and our lives are not all the time a quiet windless sea, rather our lives know unexpected winds and storms which test the construction work we do. How does Jesus come to us when winds and storms arise? As, in the case of the apostles, while we have been paining many watches of our nights, and Jesus seems completely absent to our ordeal. He does not let us stay in secure joy the great miracle worker who has fed crowds. We have no consciousness of Jesus, being concerned all along our painful ordeals, no consciousness of Jesus in prayer with his heavenly Father on the mountain. If you visit Galilee, you know that from any mountain which surrounds the Sea of Galilee there is an excellent and fascinating view of the Sea of Galilee, by day as well as by night.
Jesus sees and is in prayer interceding for us from afar. Jesus knows precisely where we are of the crossing of the sea, he watches over our progression. We have no intuition of that moment Jesus walks on the stormy sea to join us in our desperate situation. In the stormy nights of our lives, rather than being open to an unexpected approach of our good shepherd, we are filled with fear by any unusual appearance and very incapable of recognizing Jesus’ compassionate miraculous visits to us in the 4th watch of the night. Who is Jesus? Jesus is the one who makes his voice heard saying"Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid." In the Greek, that little expression "it is I" can be translated “I Am”, “I Am Who I Am”, “I am the One who revealed my Divine Name to Moses from the burning bush” "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of
Jacob,"; "I have seen the misery of my people who are in Egypt and sent Moses to lead them out of slavery to the land of milk and honey”.
So Peter says, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water."
So Jesus says, "Come."
Peter gets out of the boat, starts walking on the water, and comes toward Jesus. But when he notices the strong wind, he becomes frightened, and begins to sink and cries out, "Lord, save me!"
And Jesus immediately reaches out his hand and catches him by the hand, saying to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"
We are once again this Sunday morning in the boat with the community and Jesus is here with
us. Let me finish with a few words of St Theodore Studite, because our Ukrainian Monastic Community is a Studite Monastery with St Theodore Studite as our special Moses. I quote him: “It is God whom we eat in the Eucharist. He nourishes our spirit in the Holy Mysteries, full of a tenderness that is greater than that of a mother or wet-nurse, and he embraces us lovingly. A mother, in fact, nourishes her infant with her own milk only for a certain period; but our true master and father gives his own Body and Blood as food and drink all the time; O impenetrable goodness, O unsurpassable gift! How is it possible not to love him and not to cherish him? Not to
attach ourselves to him without cease? What gives greater light and consolation than divine communion? Not only did he die for us, but he gave himself to us as food. What more proper way is there to show the power of is love”.
Yes! Remember! “You are the holy temple of God. Do you not know that God&'s Spirit dwells in
Glory to Jesus Christ!