Homily for the 19th Week of Ordinary Time





The “Charism” of Faith has 3 characteristics:

  1. It empowers a Christian to be an effective agent of God’s purposes ..
  2. Through an unusual trust in the love, power, and provision of God ..
  3. And a remarkable freedom to act on this trust.

For example, Mother Teresa arrived in India in 1929 as a novice. 19 years later in 1948, she left her convent with 5 rupees (about $1.00) and walked into the streets of Calcutta and began a ministry that is known, and operates, throughout the world.

Those with the Charism of Faith routinely tackle such big visions with little or no visible means of support.


Then there’s the rest of us.


Oblate Father Ronald Rolheiser says that, “for most of us, faith isn’t something we ever achieve simply. It’s not something that we seem to be able to nail down. Some days we walk on water. Other days we sink like a stone. Faith invariably gives way to doubt - before it recovers its confidence again - then it loses it once more. His University of St. Louis colleague, Reginald Fuller further comments that, “It becomes a paradigm of discipleship… Jesus appears and challenges Peter, the disciple par excellence, to trust him. Peter boldly gets out of the safety of the boat and walks on water. Peter then is afraid and cries out, “Lord, save me.”

Who are we? What are we? We are God’s dreams! But being one of God’s dreams means that we have to wrestle with, and answer, statements and question like “Who do you say I am?” “C’mon out of the boat. Walk on water.” “Why did you doubt?” “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”


Le Mont-Saint-Michel is an island commune in Normandy, France located about a half mile off the country’s northwestern coast. Since the 700’s the island has been the seat of the monastery from which it draws its name. Mont Saint-Michel and its bay are on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, are one of France’s most recognizable landmarks and is visited by more than 3 million people each year.

Getting there isn’t easy. The colossal structure can only be visited during low tide. The climb to the top is even harder—arduous and steep. But that climb is more than just a challenging hike. If you decide to undertake it, you walk in the physical footsteps of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and monks and spiritual seekers who have climbed those very same steps over the centuries.

To grasp the religious significance of the Mount, we have to remember that it was built on the edge. There is no one beyond it. The climb to the top of the Abby mimics the hard, arduous, steep, challenging, frustrating, difficult spiritual climb - of faith.

After having visited Le Mont-Saint Michel, Bishop Barron wrote:

Authentic Christians are edgy folks, more than a bit dangerous. Mont Saint-Michel, standing on the border between heaven and earth, is just the kind of place those dangerous types like to go.

The art, the sacraments, the doctrine, and the saints of the church are meant to lure us to the edge of the ordinary - and to allow us, at least a glimpse, of that open sea of God’s eternity. They are, accordingly, the enemies of what philosopher Charles Taylor’s “buffered self,” the modern person so thoroughly shaped by secularist ideology, that they no longer hear the rumors of angels.

That same philosopher, Charles Taylor, further comments that today, “Our concepts of ‘belief’ or ‘faith’ are overly cognitive and fail to convey the experiential and mundane character of an ‘enchanted world.’

Or as the poet John Piper writes,

If you can’t see the sun, you will be impressed with a street light.

If you’ve never felt thunder and lighting, you’ll be impressed with fireworks.

And if you turn your back on the greatness and majesty of God,

You’ll fall in love with a world of shadows and short-lived pleasures.



Faith is not cerebral. Faith is tied into mystery. But that faith will also be tested “like fire-tried gold.” That will also include the challenge of “wrestling with God” (Genesis 32:22-31).

Let me close with some homework:

  1. Elijah goes into to cave to seek safety. But God isn’t there. Ask yourself, “what is it that causes you to move away from your “leap of faith?”
  2. Fright does not necessarily mean cowardice; it also invites the admission that we are wondrously dependent. What is one thing that you are afraid of right now? Why have you not turned that over to Jesus yet?
  3. If you’re more courageous, consider this - according to today’s readings, God doesn’t shout, scream or holler. God whispers. God is subtitle. With someone else, discuss the traces of God you find in your life.


Audio version of the homily is here:

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