Homily for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass there is a line addressed to God which says: “We do well always and everywhere to give You thanks”. Each and every week at Mass the priest says to you: “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.” And you respond each week: “It is right to give Him thanks and praise.” “It is right” . . . in other words, you are saying that it is a matter of justice: it is the right thing to do to offer God our thanks and our praise. Then the priest says that we do well always and everywhere to give God thanks: always and everywhere.

Our hearts were made for God. Many things in this world can easily come between us and Our Lord, but that is not the way that we were made: we were made for union with God. He is the source of our life: He shares His divine life with us; and He is our ultimate goal. We were created to be with God forever in Heaven. In order to attain our goal, we have to follow God faithfully. We are commanded to love God above all things. God does not take away our free will, we are perfectly free to choose God or choose to turn away from God, but when we turn away from God by sin we turn away from the very purpose of our existence and if we turn our backs on God, we turn our backs on true happiness, peace and joy.

In today’s Gospel, Saint Peter walked on the water. When we meditate on this Gospel passage we might be tempted to only think about the fact that Our Lord saved Saint Peter from drowning, but we should also think about the fact that before he turned his attention away from the Lord, Saint Peter walked on the water. Saint Peter did what is humanly impossible, so long as he kept his trust fixed on Jesus. Only when he wavered and lost that trust did he begin to sink.

Walking with Our Lord, putting all of our trust and hope in Him, does not mean that there will not be storms in our lives. Yet the strength to weather the storms comes from the Lord. While Saint Peter was walking on the water there was a strong wind, there were probably waves and he was outside of the boat. When he shifted his attention away from the Lord and became fearful, he began to sink. Of course as soon as he called out to the Lord, the Lord immediately stretched out His hand to save Saint Peter. We should learn from Saint Peter and try to put all of our confidence in God. When we begin to fall, we should call out to Our Lord immediately.
Those words of the Preface teach us an important lesson: we do well always and everywhere to give God thanks and praise. We need to keep God at the center of our lives. When we fail to keep God in mind, we tend to sink into our difficulties. The storms of our lives can overwhelm us if we forget to seek the Lord’s assistance. When we focus on the storm, instead of on God, we lose hope and become fearful. We need to learn to trust God. We should get into the habit of recalling God’s presence to our minds often throughout the day. God is always present to us, we are just rarely aware of it. If we could get into the habit of turning our attention to Him, thanking Him, praising Him, calling upon His assistance throughout the day, focusing on Him during the storms would come that much more naturally to us.

Recognizing God’s presence in our lives takes practice. God does not usually communicate to us in loud, dramatic ways. Our first reading today illustrates this point: Elijah was in a cave on mount Horeb and was told that the Lord would be passing by. There was a strong and heavy wind, which was crushing rocks; there was an earthquake and a fire; yet the Lord was not in those things. The Lord appeared to Elijah in a gentle, whispering breeze. Many times we do not recognize God’s presence in our lives because we are too busy to notice. God speaks in the silence: He does not usually force His way into our chaos: He waits for us to quiet ourselves down before He speaks to our hearts. Often, we can recognize God at work in our lives when we look back on various things that have happened to us. If we practice being mindful of God, if we practice living in His presence, we will begin to recognize Him more and more. He is always with us: let us try to be more aware of Him.

Lord Jesus Christ, we know that you are with us always. Help us, Lord, to be more mindful of You throughout the day. Give us the grace to remember to call upon You often and give you thanks always and everywhere. Amen.