Many years ago, I had the honor of hearing a talk by Dorothy Gotchaulk at the Catholic Worker House in Boston. She was a contemporary of Dorothy Day and she with her husband Richard started a home not for handicapped children but for the most handicapped of children in the classic Catholic Worker fashion.
During her talk, I asked her if she prayed and she said to me that they would not have been able to do it without prayer.
Today, we see the Gospel story of St. Peter walking on water. Let’s look at the elements. You have Jesus walking on water and then you have Peter basically challenging Jesus to get him to walk on water too. Of course, we know the story, Peter succeeds but he eventually falters because he panicked. He became afraid of the water, the story and his own inability to understand what he was doing.
There are other elements of the story we must look at, Peter dared to walk on water. Eleven other disciples did not even dare.
Peter teaches us if we want to serve Christ we must focus on him. If we do not then we will get lost at all the struggles to fulfill the talk. However, he also teaches us something about ourselves.
I have come to believe that the struggles we have encountered as Catholics over the past twenty years are something we have to look at more closely. Is God calling us to a change in our Church? I am not talking about doctrine but about how we are living it. I remember as a child growing up Catholic of priests preaching that being a Catholic was not easy because the message was we had to live in a way that refrained from sin and was different than the world was living. That is still true, however, are we also to live in a way that we are going beyond our comfort level to do the will of God? If we do that it will mean we have to focus on Christ or we will falter. Or putting it a different way, God may be calling us as Catholics to dare to live our faith in a way that will require a tremendous risk to do God’s will. It will require us to focus on Christ in order to do what he calls us to do.
I do believe this is where the Lord is calling us.
We must meet the challenges of life as God calls us to meet them which may be just as difficult as walking on water. When things go terribly wrong in your life, can you focus on Christ and ask him to lead you through it? You will get through even if it seems virtually miraculous if you focus on Christ. If you focus on disaster happening around you, you may falter. However, it is at this level I believe God is calling His Church at this time, especially in Boston.
We have to realize that the more we give ourselves to Christ the more he takes us out of our comfort zone. When we focus on him we will succeed in what he wants us to do and when we focus on our troubles we may turn away from him.
What are your most difficult situations? You realize in Catholic Theology the reasons why those situations exist is because God allowed it to happen. So can you reach out to God to help you? I will go even more intensely that I learned from a protestant preacher whom I quote a lot on the radio—Merlin Carrothers. Take your most difficult situation the one you want to go away right now. Can you praise God for that situation as Reverend Carrothers wrote the Bible clearly shows that we must praise God for all things.
If you are dealing with a situation that leads you to bring this issue to prayer because you cannot handle it on your own then know that God is calling you through that situation.
This could be the most challenging or tragic situation you go through. This is the situation that forces you into prayer. If it drives you to prayer it is your version of walking on water, even if it is horrible situation.
The more you choose to offer yourself to Christ, the greater chance you have to encounter these situations. Remember, of all the twelve apostles one dared to walk on water. If you ask the Lord to lead you where he wants you, he may lead you to walk on water and the only way you can stay up is if you focus on Christ.
I often talk about the need to do a Holy Hour. I do not do the holy hour as a priest because it is a nice thing to do, I do a holy hour as a priest because many times I experience challenges where the Lord puts me.
This is the reason why I teach how important prayer is because it is the tool through which the Lord calls us to do his will.
Right now we are living in challenging times in our country, however, twenty years ago, I warned this is where we would be. I said then that there was a move to silence the Church so that the Church would have no influence as there would be a move to change the culture from the ground up which is exactly what happened.
So what is our role today? Our role is to continue being who we are and doing what we can to lead people to Christ by living our lives. Which is always our role regardless of what is happening in the world.
Let me give you an example: When the January 6th event happened in Congress, I assumed that there were a lot of people who called out to the organizers of the Stop the Steal Rally “What were you thinking?”
Look what is happening in our country today. I am sure many times there will be reactions to it that will lead people to say over and over again: “What were you thinking?” Our role is to live our faith in a way that when things crash people say, Why didn’t we think like them meaning us?
Let us remember the words of Dorothy Gotchaulk: We could not do it without prayer. That is how you walk on water.
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