August 10, 2014
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
A friend once told me that a good story is worth telling over and over and over. I suppose that is why we have the Gospels. The story of salvation, the Good News, has been repeated over and over and over again, for generations, because there is nothing more worthy of telling or hearing. So then, I feel like I can share, yet once more, a story I’ve told countless times, about a photograph of my nephew that I took about 35 years ago.
Joe was a few months shy of his first birthday, when I happened to be visiting with my camera. He was almost ready to be put down for the night. My sister had him snug in pale blue, flees pajamas, the kind that have feet…and cuffs…and zip up the front. He was ready for a cold winter night. Crawling around on the living room floor, he made his way over to the sofa, and used it to support himself as he stood up. It was his “new trick” and he turned around to see if anyway was looking at him, obviously proud of himself. It was at this point that I thought: “I got to get a picture of this!”
Well my sister rewarded his efforts with the appropriate praise and then she crouched down on the floor…just a few feet away from him and said: “Okay Joey…now come to me! You can do it! Walk over to Mommy!”
You could see it in his eyes….a mixture of eagerness, daring, desire and fear. When, all of a sudden, he let go of the edge of the sofa, turned and started to walk towards the first voice he recognized, the voice he knew was filled with love, the voice he loved to hear. It was my sister’s voice that enabled her baby to let go of what he was clinging to for support and walk towards her. He threw out his arms, probably to balance himself, or maybe to ready himself to embrace her. He had a look of sheer delight on his face. It was then that he took his first step. CLICK! I was standing behind her and I got the picture. What I didn’t photograph was his first big fall. He got distracted by something, took his eyes off of her…and BOOM!
While I love the picture, I don’t need it to remember the moment. It’s etched into my heart. And, I think of that “first step” and that “first fall” every time I hear this weekend’s Gospel. (Matt. 14:22-33) My little nephew’s experience of moving towards love…as well as his “fall” changed him forever. After those first steps, he realized what he was capable of. He quickly recovered from the fall, and once he was duly comforted, and tears dried, he crawled right back to the sofa, turned and tired again.
Peter was able to jump into a raging sea because of “The Voice.” He recognized the love with which the simple little word “COME!” was spoken. The love was so powerful, Peter couldn’t resist. The love drew him out of the boat and enabled him to defy the laws of nature. True, he became distracted and he sank. But the experience changed him forever. It taught him how difficult it is, if not impossible, to sustain the momentum that enables us to do things which…literally defy nature. “
When we follow “The Voice” we are able to defy the stormy forces of anger, hatred, discrimination and revenge. “The Voice” draws us out of our own personal safety zones and enables us to walk over the all too human feelings of materialism, greed, and self-interest….so that we can reach out for those things that are eternal, treasure those things that have lasting value, and share what we do enjoy with those who have less…those in great need.
It’s certainly true that there are times when we get distracted and someone or something shifts our attention and we sink! But, having had the spirit lifting experience of walking above the things of this world, and moving towards “The Voice” we know that we can rise to the surface and with God’s help, start again. So…”IF THIS WEEK YOU HEAR THE VOICE….HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS!” Take your first step and don’t be afraid of your first fall.