Somebody should check God’s time card. . . He seems to have broken all overtime records. . .
Some time ago I managed to locate my eighth grade teacher, Mr. Kardos. Come to find out, he has published several best selling books in the field of education, and he is also in his 37th year of teaching at the very same school. I also found out something I didn’t know. . . he was a survivor of the holocaust.
For the longest time, I just wanted to say, Thank You, to him for all the extra attention he gave to a very awkward, not-so-popular, first-time teenager.
Well, you don’t have to get into a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee on a cloudy day to enter one of life’s storms. When a thirteen-year-old moves into a brand new neighborhood, is a foot taller than all his classmates, and has red hair that would put the Great Pumpkin to shame, just getting on the school bus each morning felt like pulling a small boat away from the safety of the shore into a raging storm on the lake.
I learned very quickly that year that storms are gonna come! For me, the one saving grace was Mr. Kardos. Each and every day when I pulled off from shore, I knew that I would have a friend in the middle of the storm, no matter what.
Plus during free time, when we weren’t looking at sun spots through his telescope, we were enlarging and developing pictures in the school darkroom, and much of the time he would just sit and talk with a few of us who were, shall we say, somewhat socially challenged. But he would always tell us, over and over again, what successes he thought we would be in life.
So here’s a man who could have very easily been made to be cynical about life, given all that he had gone through, but instead he gives more to life. I suppose you could say that, in time, I came to believe that Mr. Kardos could walk on water.
I finally got my chance to thank my teacher by letter for changing the course of my life, and I have to tell you, it really felt good.
In his return note to me, he said, My mission always was, is, and will be, to seek those that others ignore… the ones who lack hope and see no future, and then place them on a course of self worth. When I read that, a flash went off in my head brighter than a press camera, That’s it! I thought to myself.
If there is one single quality that is most Christ-like. If there is one imitation of Christ that is worthy of our effort, it would be seeking to help and to lift up those who seem to be ignored by others.
So as it turns out, my first lesson on what Jesus Christ was really like, came from my Jewish 8th grade teacher. It’s just one more of the many reasons that no one will ever be able to convince me that God doesn’t love diversity.
I also think I’m beginning to understand what it means to say that God has a special place in the heart for the poor and the outcast…for seeking out those whom others ignore.
It’s what God does best. It’s what Jesus did best. He chose disciples who probably were never going to be voted most likely to succeed by their fellow classmates. Those with the status in first century Palestine would have gone out of their way to ignore them.
If you were high on the socio-religious ladder, you wouldn’t want to get too close to a bunch of guys who handle nets that smell like last week’s trout guts.
You see, it wasn’t walking on water that was so spectacular in today’s Gospel, it was that Jesus walked into the lives of those whom others discarded, putting them on a course of self-worth.
Jesus’ greatest miracles weren’t the ones where he seemed to defy the laws of nature. Jesus’ greatest miracles occurred in each of the many times that he restored human dignity!
Jesus showed us that our God is willing to work overtime on our behalf.
There’s a well-circulated and very old story about Mark Twain when he visited the Holy Land. He wished to take one of the fishing boat rides on the Sea of Galilee. When he found out how much it cost, he said, No wonder Jesus walked.
The fact is, Jesus walked because there was need. I can’t help but think that this is the lesson that St. Matthew wants us to come away with in this Gospel.
Over the years, with regard to our Gospel today, much has been said about Peter’s impetuousness, about the disciples’ unwillingness to take a risk and about stepping out in faith. But I have to confess to you, that I can never get past the single and wonderful fact that Jesus, in whom God was so very present, came to them in the middle of the storm, and reached out and gave them comfort.
It was Jesus who sent his friends out onto the sea where storms are always a possibility. He couldn’t prevent the storm from raging, but he could do something much better than that. He could get into the boat and ride it out with them.
Keep an eye on that barometer, because storms are gonna come, but so will the God of Jesus. You see God doesn’t come and go like storms. God only comes. God will always be with us, no matter how scary, or dangerous, or risky things might get. And most importantly, God will find a way to be with those whom others ignore, to be with those who need to feel self worth.
How does God do this? Well, maybe through a Mr. Kardos, or maybe, perhaps, through one of us.