Amazing Grace that saved a wretch like me

Homily for the Nineteenth Sunday of Year A

by Fr. Tommy Lane

We are all familiar with the hymn Amazing Grace. It was written by John Newton an English sailor after his ship nearly sank off the coast of Donegal.

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
was blind, but now I see.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come.
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.’

We can identify with the second verse of Amazing Grace. We have all come through many dangers, toils and snares. We did not do it on our own, it is grace that has brought us safely this far and we trust that God’s will continue to guide us. Like the disciples in the Gospel today (Matt 14:22-33) struggling against a heavy sea in the boat being reassured by Jesus calming the storm we all need the reassurance and help of Jesus to calm the storms in our lives. Like Peter sinking, sometimes we need the Lord to stretch out his hand and save us (Matt 14:30-31).

When a trial comes we may be tempted to say, “God doesn’t care about me”, or to think other negative thoughts. But God is always faithful and never abandons us and doesn’t cause our suffering. When you think about it, an amount of suffering is caused by the cruelty and inhumanity of humans to humans. So much of the suffering could be avoided if everybody took the Gospel to heart. We could have heaven on earth. But since we don’t, and we have to face storms like the disciples in the boat, Jesus catching Peter by the hand is, I think, Jesus’ way of telling us that he is there for all people of all time to catch them by the hand and take them to safety. If you are struggling with a problem at this time can you imagine Jesus catching you by the hand and pulling you up to safety? See him before you and hear him saying to you, “Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.” (Matt 14:27)

Many passages in the Bible give us encouragement when we are struggling. Obviously God intended that the writers to include these passages in the Bible to give us courage in our storms. There are many such beautiful passages and I would like to give you a sample of a few now:

Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
stop being anxious and watchful, for I am your God.
I give you strength, I bring you help,
I uphold you with my victorious right hand. (Isa 41:10)

Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name, you are mine.
Should you pass through the sea, I will be with you;
or through rivers, they will not swallow you up.
Should you walk through fire, you will not be scorched
and the flames will not burn you (Isa 43:1-2) 

Does a woman forget her baby at the breast,
or fail to cherish the son of her womb?
Yet even if these forget,
I will never forget you. (Isa 49:15) 

With God on our side who can be against us? Nothing can come between us and the love of Christ, even if we are troubled or worried, or being persecuted, or lacking food or clothes, or being threatened or even attacked. These are the trials through which we triumph by the power of him who loved us (Rom 8:31-37)

None of the trials which have come upon you is more than a human being can stand. You can trust that God will not let you be put to the test beyond your strength, but with any trial will also provide a way out by enabling you to put up with it. (1 Cor 10:13)

We could also add Jesus’ words to Peter in today’s Gospel, “Man of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt 14:31)

This is just a small selection of beautiful texts in the Bible. God certainly wants us to understand that he is with us in our storms. When a storm hits, take the hand of Jesus and let him lift you to safety.

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
was blind, but now I see.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come.
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.’

“Man of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt 14:31)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More homilies for the Nineteenth Sunday Year A

Trusting in Jesus when Problems Occur

Growing through Trials like Peter

stories about faith