Weekend of 13 August 2017

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time | Year A

Matt 14: 22-33

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he would send the crowds away. After sending the crowds away he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, while the boat, by now far out on the lake, was battling with a heavy sea, for there was a head-wind. In the fourth watch of the night he went towards them, walking on the lake, and when the disciples saw him walking on the lake they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost’ they said, and cried out in fear. But at once Jesus called out to them, saying, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ It was Peter who answered. ‘Lord’, he said ‘if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water.’ ‘Come’ said Jesus. Then Peter got out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus across the water, but as soon as he felt the force of the wind, he took fright and began to sink. ‘Lord! Save me!’ he cried. Jesus put out his hand at once and held him. ‘Man of little faith,’ he said ‘why did you doubt?’ And as they got into the boat the wind dropped. The men in the boat bowed down before him and said, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’

Reflection

To get out of a boat in the middle of a storm and start walking across the water was certainly an act of faith on Peter’s part. He wasn’t even sure that the person walking across the lake to him was Jesus, but he knew that if it was he would not come to harm. When he lost his nerve and began to sink, Jesus put out his hand and held him, at once. This instant action indicates that Jesus did not take his eyes off Peter as he embarked on his walk of faith across the water. 

There is a saying that every journey begins with one small step. Peter’s journey across the water began with the step out of the boat. With his eyes fixed on Jesus, he believed he could do something which was physically impossible, and for a few steps on his journey across the water he did the impossible. But when logic took over he began to sink.
 
Sometimes Jesus calls us to make a journey in faith. The first steps on the journey may not be difficult, as we are buoyed by faith and the momentum which is often part of beginning something new. But there is often a “dip” period after the beginning, where the momentum flags, the easy things have been done and problems emerge. Critics appear and the return for the energy expended seems very little. Like Peter we begin to feel the full force of the wind. At this point the initial act of faith which prompted us to step out on the journey can be replaced by doubt.
 
It is in this “dip” period that we make the real act of faith, without the support of the enthusiasm and emotions which prompted us to begin the journey. This is the time in which we need to remember that when Peter was sinking amid his doubts, Jesus responded at once to help him. More than that, Jesus put out his hand to help him which indicates how close Jesus was to Peter during the journey across the water. 
 
Peter had no hesitation in calling out “Lord! Save me!” when he got into difficulties. When we start to sink, the temptation is to try to save ourselves. In trying to save ourselves we abandon the original act of faith which propelled us into making the journey. In calling out to Jesus to save us, we abandon ourselves into his hands in a true act of faith.