Go Forth With Faith

Go Forth With Faith

August 9, 2020 | N W | Commitment, Courage, Deacon Eddie, Discipleship, Faith, Self-Reflection, Trust

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 9, 2020 – Year A
Readings: 1 Kgs 19:9A, 11-13A / Ps 85 / Rom 9:1-5 / Mt 14:22-33
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon

For the past few years, during religious education, I have given a church tour to various classes. These seem to go over pretty well. I show them many things within the church area – we talk about the holy oils, the tabernacle, the altar and the relics of the two saints who reside within the altar. This week as I was doing some research, I came across a piece of information that I knew but hadn’t thought about. I was reminded that the main part of the church is called the NAVE. This word comes from the Latin word for boat. The Church fathers all agree that, whenever you read about a boat in the Gospels, it is a metaphor for the Church.

Today’s gospel takes on new meaning if you replace the word “boat” with “Church.” It really unpacks the meaning of the reading and not just this gospel but multiple other readings as well.

The Church is like a boat in many ways. Notice that I am using the word “boat” and not “ship,” because when people hear “ship,” they often think of a cruise ship. I am speaking about a wooden sailing boat. Inside that sailing vessel is a crew, the parishioners, and on that boat if the crew doesn’t cooperate and stay focused, really bad things can happen.

For one, the boat doesn’t go anywhere. It requires a great deal of activity just to raise the sails, not to mention getting the boat moving. If the members of the crew decided to do their own thing or sit around, it wouldn’t be very productive, and the boat wouldn’t go anywhere. It is like that with the Church. If we, the members, fail to stay focused and fail to do our part, bad things can happen.

I’ve always liked this gospel, but I’ve always thought that Peter got a bad rap. Sure Jesus rebukes him for losing focus and confidence in the Lord, but where were the other disciples? They stayed in the boat. At least Peter’s faith was strong enough to think, “Hey, I can do this!” This is also required of Church members; it requires our faith to be a good crew member. Stick with the program and stay focused. Peter had faith, but he lost focus.

The first reading needs a little background to understand it. Elijah was in a cave on a mountain, the same mountain where Moses received the Ten Commandments. Elijah had just come from a confrontation with the prophets of Baal, and he had destroyed them utterly. Queen Jezebel was not at all happy and vowed to kill Elijah. He decided to leave the area because he feared for his life. That in and of itself is not bad, but when you lose focus and start turning inward, that’s when faith fails to materialize. I think this inward looking, this loss of focus, and this focus on ourselves, is fundamental to many problems of today.

When I was in quarantine, I watched many documentaries on World War II. One of the problems leading up to that conflict was extreme nationalism. Countries were more concerned about themselves than the world. Unfortunately, this thinking hasn’t gone away. This inward turning, this thinking of ourselves above everyone else, is fundamental to so many problems, to so many seemingly irreconcilable differences that we see in the world today. It has a lot to do with so many people refusing to make small concessions and sacrifices to protect the well-being of more vulnerable people. They see it as an attack on their rights. It’s like any good boat, it’s not about the individual but about the group as a whole. It requires focus and teamwork and keeping your eyes on the goal – on Jesus.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that every Mass ends in the same way. The Priest or Deacon gives you your ‘marching orders.’ There are several different versions of the final words but my favorite is, “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.” Brothers and Sisters, those are our ‘marching orders,’ to go forth and spread the Gospel, keeping our eyes on the Lord.