10 August 2008


19TH Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mt 14:22-33

Pardon me, I’ll brag a bit: am a good swimmer. My complexion used to be dark because sunburn does not peel off on me. For many, am tan, while for some, wishing to flatter me, am Latino. But whatever name you give the color of my complexion, there is no denying I swim a lot. I still remember when I was in the minor seminary, whenever the seminary swimming pool was available, you would find me there. Even when the weather was not good, still I swim. Until in college, for two semesters at the Ateneo, my P.E. was swimming. And here’s more: I am not only a good swimmer, I am a lifeguard. I was yet in senior year in high school when I became a certified lifeguard.

The long hours and discipline of learning how to swim paid off. I know different styles in swimming. I can crisscross an Olympic size swimming pool underwater. And I can float in the water for hours and hours, too. But I confess, there is something I cannot do or hate to do: I don’t like traveling by a sea vessel. Am afraid of drowning. Weird, right? I swim well, but am afraid traveling by sea. Am a lifeguard, but am afraid of drowning.
When I was in Bukidnon, in 1990, I wanted to go home to Manila. It was the first time for me to be far from my family and it was Christmas time then. I was so sad. When I got my allowance from the Jesuit treasurer, Fr. Honesto Pacana, now bishop of Malaybalay, Bukidnon, I asked for more. My plan was to fly to Manila before Christmas day. But my money was not enough for a round trip domestic flight. My money, however, was enough for a boat ride. My solution: travel by bus from Cagayan de Oro to the terminal ni Pasay City. Where was I on Christmas midnight? Sorsogon. When I arrived in Pasay, it was already nightfall and Christmas day was almost over. I would really do anything if only to avoid traveling by sea. But I am a good swimmer.

Simon Peter was different though. He was a bit weird, don’t you think so? He worked out in the sea, but he was afraid of the sea. Worse, he walked on the water but he could not even swim. If he was not a weirdo, Simon Peter was simply daring. He dared Jesus. Jesus dared him. “Lord,” Simon Peter dared Jesus, “if it is You, tell me to come to You.” Jesus obliged, “Come.” But Jesus was standing on water; thus, Simon Peter had to walk on water to reach Jesus. He dared, nonetheless, to walk. On water. But for a few steps only. When he notice how big the waves were and how strong the sea wind was, Simon Peter started sinking. But Jesus did not abandon him. Jesus did not stand motionless, watching Simon Peter drown. He reached out for Simon Peter. He saved Simon Peter, for the meaning of Jesus’ name, which in Hebrew is Yeshua, is “God saves”.

Jesus is the lifeguard of my life. In Him, all my bragging ends. I should have drowned in the sea of life a long time ago because of trials, problems, and sins. I may be a good swimmer, but am afraid of drowning. Jesus is the lifeguard of my life.

Jesus is the lifeguard of the Church. without Jesus, the boat, which is the Church, should have sunk a long time ago. What with Peter himself, its leader, quickly shuddering in fear before the elements that threaten the Church. Without Jesus, the long history of scandals, sins, mistakes, and problems of the Church, the Church would have sank a long time ago and buried in the abyss of those deserving to be forgotten. The Church is holy, but she is also sinful. Jesus is the lifeguard of the Church.

And you, stop the bragging, and say who is the lifeguard of your life?


At 6:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello father. :)
i'm doing my Christian living homework right now and i came across your blog. your reflections are very nice and i like your points of view about the gospel. they help me understand it more.

maybe you know my uncle, Fr. joey fermin? i believe he is a jesuit too :D

i'm from the philippines by the way. that's all. thank you :)


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