Placing Our Focus on God: On the Ninth Sunday After Pentecost

Fr. Milan Medakovic | 05 August 2012

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in today’s Gospel we hear how our Lord came to His disciples walking on the water in the midst of a storm. We hear how Saint Peter through faith joins Him on the water. Then Saint Peter becomes distracted by the storm and cries out “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30) Our Lord reaches out and catches him and says “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31)

In this Gospel we see the power of faith. We see that if we have faith we can perform miraculous things. Our Lord reminds of this when he says the following “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (Matthew 17:20) and again “Truly I say unto you, If you have faith, and doubt not, you shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if you shall say unto this mountain, be removed, and be cast into the sea; it shall be done.” (Matthew 21:21)

When we have faith we embark on a spiritual path that leads to God. That path often appears dangerous. As we see with Saint Peter getting out of the boat and walking on water in the midst of a storm.

If we have any doubt as we walk this spiritual path then the troubles and cares of this world overwhelm us. We become preoccupied with the storms that are around us because we lose our focus on God. This is what happened to Saint Peter when he began to sink. He lost his focus on the Savior and placed his focus on the storm around him. When he did this he lost the grace that was given to him when he stepped out of the boat in faith. This should remind us as our Lord said “without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

When we lose our focus on the Lord and get caught up in the storm of temptations around us we have a choice to make. That choice is, do we place our trust in the Savior to help us or do we allow the temptations to overcome us. This is the same choice that Saint Peter was confronted with as he was sinking in the water. When we are in this situation we can do two things the first is call out as Peter did “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30) or “curse God, and die.” (Job 2:9) as Job’s wife told him in the midst of his afflictions.

If we choose to follow Saint Peter’s example and cry out “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30) then we will find that the Savior is ready to reach out His hand and pull us out of the storm of temptations just like he did for Saint Peter in the Gospel. This example shows us that the Lord is always there for us.

If we know that the Lord is there for us then why do we doubt? It is because we are fainthearted and do not place our trust in the Lord. There are many example for us in the scripture that show us that we should rejoice in the Lord and trust in Him when we are in our greatest affliction. When we are in great affliction we should

Remember how Abraham was free of doubt when he took his only son, Isaac, as a sacrifice and how God saved him. (Genesis 22:1-18)

Remember how Jonah glorified God in the belly of the whale and was saved. (Jonah 2:7)

Remember how the Three Holy Children sang the glories of God in the fiery furnace and were saved (Daniel 3:19-26)

Remember how Daniel was saved in the lion’s den (Daniel 6:16-23)

Remember how the Blessed Job praised God in his affliction. (Job 2:7-10)

With the remembrance these examples we should not be given over to despair but should be strengthened in our faith that the Lord will save us so that we can say as the Blessed King David said “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. Your vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto You. For You have delivered my soul from death: will not You deliver my feet from falling.” (Psalm 56:11-13)

Amen

Delivered by Fr. Milan Medakovic at Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church on the 9th Sunday after Pentecost 2009

(Fr. Milan is a Protodeacon of the Eastern American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church)

Source: Weblog of Fr Milan Medakovic

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