August 10, 2014: 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him waking 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.” (Matthew 14:25-27)
These were not men afraid of the sea. Some of them were fishermen by trade. The gale-force winds of this night were terrifying to those experienced fishermen. Why would Jesus send them out on this adventure? When they were in the moment of their greatest fear, a shadowy figure came to them across the water. They were terrified—a ghost, they thought. The shadow of death, perhaps? Then, with flawless timing, Jesus, walking across the water, speaks to them calmly, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
The waters calmed. The disciples were in awe. This man, who walks on water and calms the sea, must truly be the Messiah. Peter, always daring, in order to prove his confidence in Jesus, was willing to risk drowning by taking to water-walking himself to show his faith. While he trusted in Christ, all went well, but when his faith weakened, he could have been lost if not for the outstretched hand of Jesus to keep him afloat.
Jesus does not tell us that we will not have storms–of illness, of death, of pain, of loss, of doubt, of death. God does not cause our suffering, nor does God allow it. What is promised by Jesus through the stories of his life in the Gospels is that he will be with us in our darkness and our pain, that he will suffer with us, as he demonstrated so clearly in his passion, and that the Spirit will be present to guide us from our darkness to light.
That is God’s promise on which our faith rests.
Reflect this week on one of the troubled waters of your own life. Allow Jesus to say to you, as he did to the disciples, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
What changes in you as you get out of the boat into the water like Peter to meet Jesus?