I King 19:11-13, Rom 9:1-5, Mt 14:22-33
Dear friends! Today we have the continuation of the last Sunday’s gospel. After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side. As evening came he withdrew from the people into the nearby hills to pray. It was already dawn when he went towards the boat walking over the waters. This means that Jesus spent the whole night in prayer! The disciples were in trouble, battling against the heavy wind, they were toiling, rowing. The Lord saw them in their danger. The disciples could not see him distinctly since it was still dark. They thought that it was a ghost and cried out in fear. But at once Jesus called out to them, saying ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid”.
The wind in the lake is the symbol of the difficulties we experience in our life: The struggle of the universal church as it faces the challenges of the modern society, the difficulties of our community, family and personal struggles. The Lord sees our difficulties. He is there to rescue us. He will come to his people in the hour of their need. Often it would seem as though he would pass by and leave us in our anguish. But it is only a trial of our faith, to make us feel our need of him. Faithful and earnest prayer always brings him to our side.
A passenger ship was on its way from Europe to America, when a powerful storm broke out. There were more than a thousand passengers on board, but in spite of the ship being so large it was buffeted by the waves as if it were a small boat. Passengers grew panic; they feared that the ship would sink. Only a boy of about ten maintained his calm and enjoyed the rocking of the ship as if it were a game. Seeing him so unconcerned about the danger, one of the passengers asked him: Are you not afraid? To which the boy replied: why should I be afraid? – My father is the captain! Why should we be afraid of our short comings and difficulties when Jesus our divine savior is with us? He will calm all our fears, but what is expected of us is to place our faith and trust in him.
After narrating the incident of Jesus’ walking on the sea, St. Mathew narrates the incident of Peter walking on the sea! When Jesus said, “take courage, it is I; do not be afraid” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord if it is you, command me to come to you on the water. Jesus called Peter to come to him and Peter stepped out in sheer faith and began to go the Lord walking on the water. When we find ourselves caught in the storm’s of life that threaten to sink us Jesus will always come to us.
However, he is not content to come to us because he also wants us to come to him. He calls us to step out of the boat. How do we respond to the call of Christ? The key is faith. Like Peter, He calls us to step out in an act of faith. Peter boldly stepped out the boat by faith and began to walk on the water to Jesus. But his triumph quickly turned to tragedy when his focus shifted from the Savior to the storm and he began to sink. As long as his faith was focused on Jesus, Peter was empowered to do the miraculous. But the crashing waves and the howling wind caused him to lose faith by losing focus on Jesus. As soon as Peter realized what was happening he immediately turned his focus back to the Lord as he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Likewise if we concentrate our eyes only on our difficulties, the difficulties will swallow us. If, instead, we keep our eyes on Jesus, Jesus will save us.
Peter was courageous in the boat, but timid on the waters; bold at the Last Supper, but cowardly on the night of trial. Peter later on will be more cautious; “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you” (Jn 21:17) Peter would have learnt to distrust himself and trust the Lord. What is admirable in Peter is that every time he failed, he did not fail to cling to Jesus. The wonderful thing about Peter is that every time he fell, he rose up. His failures brought closer to Christ.
It has been said that a saint is not one who never fails; a saint is one who gets up and goes on again every time he fails. Peter’s failure only made him love Jesus more. The gospel says: “And when they (Peter and Jesus) got into the boat, the wind died down”. When Christ comes into a soul, he makes winds and storm cease. There comes peace. Jesus Christ has never promised us an easy passage of our life to the next world, but he has promised us a safe landing.
St. Francis de Sales one day noticed a girl carrying a pot full of water. He also noticed that the girl put a piece of wood in the pot. The saint asked her: “Why do you put a piece of wood in the pot? She replied: “To keep the water steady, to keep it from spilling.” St. Francis remarks: So when our heart is distressed and agitated, put a cross into the centre of our heart, to keep it steady. In every storm and distress, the presence of Jesus will bring peace and serenity and calm. Let us cry out with Peter: “Lord, save me”. Mt 14:30.