The gaze cannot drift.

Homily 371 – 9th after Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
August 18, 2019
Epistle: (128) – 1 Corinthians 3:9-17 and (213) – Galatians 5:22-6:2
Gospel: (99) – Matthew 14:22-34 and (10) – Matthew 4:25-5:12

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.

Miracles are interesting things. Observing a miracle would be amazing. Being the object of a miracle would, seems to me, be life-altering.

The disciples, in a boat without their Lord, set out without their Lord, at His direction. They obediently got into the boat and set off.

Things progressively got worse. The wind was against them – and anytime the wind is against you, the seas are going to be rough. Capsized boats weren’t just a possibility – they were probable. The potential for loss of life was very, very real.

Most of the disciples were experienced fishermen, spending years on the inland seas where they made their living.

But some were not – Matthew for example. Matthew was, like me, an office worker – a tax collector. He is the patron saint of accountants.

I’m quite sure he wasn’t terribly familiar with the trials of boat life.

Jesus had other events on the boat – when the storms came, and he was asleep, and calmed the winds and waves with his command. And stilled the fears of those on the boat in the process.

But this time was different. Christ wasn’t with them.

So, in the midst of their tempest and fear, in the darkest part of the night, they were seemingly without their Lord, their protector.

I know that feeling – I imagine most of us know that feeling. Being alone, without God nearby. At least that is what we think.

And then God comes to us, in a completely unexpected way. In this case, walking on something that cannot be walked on. He walked on water.

Needless to say, this caught them all off guard, to the point that they didn’t know if it was really Christ or just a collective vision that wasn’t real.

They couldn’t see well enough to recognize Jesus. Then Jesus spoke – and they knew it was Him. The sheep know the voice of their shepherd.

But still there was doubt – so Saint Peter took it upon himself to call out to the Lord. If it is you, tell me to come.

If it is you, Lord, I want to be with you – call me to you. Like the man who said Lord, if you will, I can be healed.

And Christ said – I will it – I desire it. I desire to be with you also. Come to me.

St. Peter took those first steps to Christ. I’m pretty sure the idea of what was happening to him wasn’t really registering. His sole, singular focus was on Jesus.

And only when he paused to consider his circumstances did he falter. St. Peter became concerned for himself and his circumstances, and lost the focus on Christ.

And began to sink. And was rescued by Christ.

Now, remember a bit of context. Christ had just fed 5,000 men, plus women and children, with five loaves and two fish, with twelve basketfuls of leftovers.

The observing of a miracle didn’t change much. Perhaps they increased their resolve to follow Christ – or perhaps just remained curious and inquisitive.

Now, in the dark stormy times, without their Lord, they not only witnessed a miracle, they participated in one.

That also didn’t change the disciples – for a moment St. Peter had his whole focus on Christ. And then he didn’t.

To be honest, we have miracles all around us, nearly all the time. Part of science is explaining miracles. And yet, the miracle remains.

We know how cells divide, and how cells specialize, and how molecules form proteins and transfer energy.

And yet the creation of life is a miracle. All life is miraculous. The existence of the universe is a miracle – something we cannot explain.

That we can’t find life outside our planet, and cannot find a place without life on our planet, is miraculous to me.

So the lesson for us is that miracles serve only one purpose – they repurpose our perspective. They refocus our attention. To where it should be – on Christ.

When our focus is on Christ – and completely oblivious about our surroundings and our circumstances – then we also participate in the miracle.

The miracle is life itself.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Glory to Jesus Christ!