The Gospel according to Matthew (14:22-36)
Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side of the sea,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them, walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them, “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.”
He said, “Come.”
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
“Truly, you are the Son of God.”
After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret.
When the men of that place recognized him,
they sent word to all the surrounding country.
People brought to him all those who were sick
and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak,
and as many as touched it were healed.
Opening Prayer: Jesus, help me to keep my eyes fixed on You. I know that when I take my eyes off Your face, I fall into the sea of doubt. Let me know that You are truly close enough to reach out and grasp my hand and draw me back to Yourself! Amen.
There is so much in the story of Jesus walking on the water, and Peter’s experience in trying to do the same! We see Jesus’ mastery of the elements in his miraculous walk toward the Apostles in the midst of the storm on the Sea of Galilee, and we see how the Apostles struggled without Jesus. Finally, we see the usual action of Peter in speaking up and participating in that miracle.. until he took his eyes off Jesus, at least.
It’s that last point that I would like us to spend some time today. Peter stepped out of the boat and, as long as he looked right at Jesus, he was able to walk on the waves as Jesus did. In our lives, as long as we focus on Jesus, He will never let us sink into the waves. No. He will be there to encourage us and to call us closer and closer to His very self.
But, our lives are like those stormy seas. We may feel (at times) very close to God. Perhaps, especially after hearing a homily that touched our hearts in some way, we truly hear God speaking to us. But, then, we get home from church and this issue or that problem totally derails that peace that we had. We may give in to despair, and then we truly have taken our eyes off the face of Jesus. What do we do to get back that sense of peace and of knowing that God truly is with us?
I would suggest a couple of things to do at those moments: first, at the first opportunity, find time to be quiet, to catch your breath, and to try to settle your mind and heart. For me, this may mean paying attention to my breathing and quietly reciting a comforting prayer, like the Hail Mary or the Our Father. Even just saying the words quietly to myself, I can often feel the tension in that situation begin to recede. Of course, praying doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. But, it does give me a mind and an attitude that is more likely to be line with my faith and the actions I take are more likely to be loving.
The second thing to keep in mind is that, no matter what it is that is pulling me down into the waves, Jesus never will abandon me. We see in today’s story that not only did He not leave Peter, but He was literally right there, within arms’ length to reach out and save him. Jesus does no less for each of us. When we quiet our hearts, we can remember His promise and know that He is with us. Again, He may not solve the problem or situation, but sharing the burden with another can’t help but be a benefit.
Today, let us be reminded that no matter how strong our faith is, Jesus walks with each of us. He comes across the sea to us in the storm and is there when we call, to reach out His hand and save us, drawing us to Himself. And, no matter how many times we take our eyes off His face and fall into the waves, He will never fail to be there in our moment of need. Thanks be to God!
Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, let me take this moment to recognize Your presence with me through the storms of my daily life. Let me feel Your hand, supporting me, drawing me from the water, comforting me through whatever comes. Amen.
Action for the Day: Think of what are the storms in your life and how you can give them over to God, and how you can love those around you, no matter how difficult it may be to do so.