Gospel – Matthew 14:22-33
After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side,
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 Peter,
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.”
Reflection on the Gospel
Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.
In many novels, plays and films there are storms. Characters look to grey skies and warn that a storm is coming. This is not just a weather forecast! In our own daily lives when we face difficult or painful situations we talk about ‘weathering a storm’ or ‘being all at sea.’ These recent months whether at a personal, local, national or global level, we have all weathered, battled and hopefully survived the storm that was and still is the Corona virus. It shook and rattled us and we all did our very best to hang on and survive. Hopefully these days now, that storm is easing for us.
In the gospel today, the disciples find themselves in a storm while at sea in a boat, but this is not the only storm they are facing. The gospel continues directly from last week’s when Jesus fed the crowd. After sending them away, Jesus again spends time alone where he can be silent, rest and pray. Even Jesus can’t be busy and active all the time. While the disciples are at sea the famous storm blows and bellows.
While the storm is at its worst, Jesus arrives walking in water. So overcome with panic, fear and doubt, the friends of Jesus think they are seeing a ghost. It is not only the waves that have got the better of them, so too has their lack of faith and their fear. Seeing their fear, Jesus proclaims the most used phrase in the bible, ‘Do not be afraid.’ In an act that is either brave or filled with bravado, Peter volunteers to walk on the water towards Jesus. He takes the first few steps and is doing well until he sees the waves and then he sinks. He cries out to Jesus, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus stretches out his hand and saves Peter. Getting back into the boat Jesus both calms the storm and the disciples.
Without the Coronavirus, we all deal with daily pain and difficulties; ‘the storms of life.’ This might be illness, family problems, bereavement or unemployment; the list is endless. When we read or hear this gospel, we tend to focus on the fact the Peter took his eyes of Jesus and sank. But he also had the faith, courage and humility to ask for help and cry out, ‘Lord, save me.’
I know from personal and painful experience that I have often tried to solve my problems by myself. I neither looked nor asked for help. I did not turn to Jesus and pray, ‘Lord, save me.’ I let my fear become stronger than my faith. Being older and hopefully a little wiser, I now realize that I cannot face the storms of my life without Jesus by my side. As I put out my hand and ask for help, Jesus stretches out his to hold and support me. I am not alone no matter what storm I am experiencing.
We are all now experiencing a ‘new normal.’ We may still be feeling unsure and anxious. Can we stretch out our hand to Jesus as we hear him say to each of us, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ Whatever storms we are experiencing today, we are not alone.
Brother Michael Moore, OMI
Saint John Baptist de La Salle – Pray for us.
Live, Jesus, in our hearts – Forever.