Here's the homily I would have given today, had I not confused the preaching schedule. Perhaps the Holy Spirit intervened for the good. You be the judge . . . .
Saint John Paul II said that “[f]aith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.” But these two wings are useless to us, if we don’t have the courage to step out of the nest in the first place (or the boat, as the case may be). Courage is essential to Christian belief. In an increasingly secularized world, religious belief is often greeted with patronizing disdain. That’s because Christianity calls us to the highest standards of moral living – God’s standards – and human standards don’t always live up to God’s standards. So for some, it’s easier to criticize and dismiss God’s standards as archaic, irrelevant or oppressive than to try to live up to them. For some, it may seem easier to go along with the critics and ignore what faith and reason compel us to believe. I encourage you, particularly our teens and young adults, to have the courage to believe anyway. That bishop didn’t want to leave the safety of the boat, but he had the courage to do it anyway. I challenge you to be like that bishop and the apostles in the Temple, summon up the courage to proclaim Christ crucified unabashedly, even if it’s not the cool thing to do, the easy thing to do, or the dry thing to do. Christian belief requires courage.
Let’s face it, Christianity is hard to believe. It takes reason, faith and courage. But if Christianity weren’t hard to believe, it wouldn’t be worth believing at all. You see, “the entire purpose of the Christian life [is] to make us, not simply better people . . ., but to make us divine, to conform us to a participation in the life of the Trinity.” What greater goal could we have than to be holy and burning with God’s eternal love through Jesus Christ? Scripture shows clearly that every encounter with Christ is life-changing. But first, we have to engage our reason, our faith and our courage and believe. You can’t walk on water, if you don’t get out of the boat.