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 (Matthew 14:22-36)
When troubles come our way, we often, we forget that God is still with us or wonder where He is. It is strange really, but that is what happens to so many people when they get upset. They think God has gone on holidays. But that is not so. God is still with us. We cannot always rely on our feelings, and we can rely on them still less when there is something bothering us. The truth is that God is with us always, whether or not we feel his presence. Remember when Jesus was worried, he prayed and received strength in prayer to face his passion.
In these times, it is important to rely on absolutes. Not another person’s feelings but rather that absolute voice that is inside each of us. That voice which some characterize as “conscience,” others (including me) believe that it is the Holy Spirit – the breath of God that each of us has. It is the bedrock of faith.
We should keep in mind that life is truly a journey to God, a journey of growth and maturation and there is often more growth and maturation in the valleys than on the mountaintops. Trials are an opportunity to grow closer to God and if we don’t learn our lesson from a trial the first time it comes, I would not be surprised if God were to allow the same or a similar trial to come our way again so that we learn the next time and grow closer to him. So, when a trial comes our way some of the questions we can ask ourselves are, “Are you trying to say something to me, God, during this trial?” “What are you trying to teach me during this crisis, God?” “What do you want me to learn, God?” Someone has said that when a trial comes our way, we should milk it for meaning. Trials are opportunities if we want to succeed spiritually and really grow close to the Lord.
One of the things learned during a trial is that we cannot do by our own strength what we can do with the grace of God. What we cannot do by nature we can do by grace.
One important lesson of today’s readings is that, in our turbulent world (and much of the turbulence is in our own hearts), Jesus is the source of peace. Jesus told his disciples at the Last Supper (John 14:27), “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.
These words were spoken just before Jesus was to be arrested, tried and executed by his enemies. The “world” cannot provide peace in such a situation but Jesus can and does. It is Jesus who gives peace in the ups and downs, in the storms of our own lives.
Always hold on the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel and remember that His words are addressed to men and women in every trial, “Courage. It is I. Do not be afraid.”
Prayer of The Day
“Lord, help me to trust you always and to never doubt your presence and your power to help me. In my moments of doubt and weakness, may I cling to you as Peter did. Strengthen my faith that I may walk straight in the path you set before me, neither veering to the left nor to the right”.
In reality, I think we’re all in various parts of this Gospel at any one time. Some may be near the beginning of the story, being tossed by waves and contrary winds, not recognizing the presence of Jesus. Some may not recognize Him when He comes to us. Some of us vacillate between moments of walking on the water with the Lord and moments of sinking as we look at ourselves and our lives.
The goal, always, is to look for Jesus and, having found Him, to go to Him. When you are afraid or are sinking, cry out to Him. When He asks you to come to Him, even though what He asks is as unlikely as walking on the water, come to Him. And when He delivers you or comes to you in any way today, come before Him to worship Him as the Son of God.
Make it your goal today to see Jesus, and when you do, to share Him with someone else.