The first thing to notice about the Gospel reading this Sunday is the introduction. Often these transition pieces can be lost in our attention to the main event. It is helpful for us to note that, after Jesus multiplied the loaves and the fish and dismissed the crowds, Jesus went up the mountain alone to pray. His example is very instructive to us. Jesus, the Son of God, needed to spend time in communion with His Father. How much more is that true for you and for me?
Meanwhile the disciples are crossing the lake in a boat. Jesus had sent them away also so that He could be alone. A sudden storm comes up on the lake and they are in danger. Jesus must have seen this from the mountain and He interrupts His prayer to come to them. While they are afraid of the storm, they are terrified by what they think is a ghost coming toward them. Jesus is there to rescue them but they do not recognize Him. Sound familiar?
Not surprisingly, it is the brash and impulsive Peter who dares Christ: “If it is you, tell me to walk on the water.” Jesus invites him to come. He becomes preoccupied with the strength of the wind and he begins to sink. Once he takes his eyes off Christ, he is in trouble: “Save me, Lord.”
Again, does this sound familiar? Once we take our eyes off Christ, we too are in trouble. When we are overwhelmed by the storms of illness, unemployment, the death of a loved one, the breakup of a relationship we begin to sink into self-doubt or despair or bitterness.
Jesus stretches out His hand to Peter and say: “O you of little faith. Why did you doubt?” Are you in the midst of a storm in your life? You may very well be afraid. That is very understandable. But you can move from fear to faith. You can do this by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus whether you feel His presence or not. You can do this by coming and talking about your situation rather than carrying the darkness alone. You can move from fear to faith by pouring out your heart to God and then sitting quietly in His presence so that His peace can permeate your spirit.
Then, right in the midst of your darkness and fear you can echo the words of Peter to Christ: “Truly, you are the Son of God.”
May the Lord give you peace.
Fr. Jim McNamara