Homily by Fr. Michael Szyjan on the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
August 6, 2023
During the liturgical cycle of Pentecost, we reflect upon the mission of the church and our role in this mission as we work with the Holy Spirit. What can the Sunday readings of the ninth week teach us about working with the Holy Spirit?
St. Paul reminds us in the reading to the Corinthians, “We are co-workers in God’s service… God’s building… the foundation… is Jesus Christ,” and that “each one should build with care… you yourselves are God’s temple, and God’s Spirit dwells in your midst.” He points out that life has its trials and that “the fire will test the quality of each person’s work,” but that a reward comes for those who work with the Holy Spirit.
The Gospel of this Sunday, it is told the story of Jesus walking on water during a storm on the Sea of Galilee. The apostles are in a boat being tossed and turned, but Jesus, being concerned, comes to them. The storm represents the many trials that we have in life, in general, and specifically in our mission in the Church. Interestingly, only Peter connects with Jesus and, in a bold move, asks for Jesus’ assistance so that he may join him. However, the uncertainty of the wind and waves stops Peter from connecting with Jesus, until he screams, “Save me!”
What can we learn from these two stories? Firstly, we are on a mission that continues the work of Jesus. Secondly, the same Spirit that came upon Jesus at his Baptism has come upon us at our Baptism, and the readings from the yearly liturgical cycle of the Pentecost remind us of the need to be active with this Spirit. Thirdly, have courage and be like Peter. Life has its trials, but you have to get out of the boat if you want to approach Jesus. Fourthly, don’t be afraid to say ‘I’m sinking!’ Jesus is there, ready to give you a helping hand.