Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them.
And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.”
So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. After the people of that place recognized him, they sent word throughout the region and brought all who were sick to him, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Today’s gospel has it all: faith versus fear, walking on water versus drowning, doubt versus belief. Promotional copy might read: “If you read one scripture passage this year, make it Matthew 14:22-36!”
Here we learn that Jesus prays. Alone. After feeding the crowds, he goes up the mountainside to connect with his Father. Even Jesus needs periods of solitude and prayer to fulfill his mission. What if we followed his example and prayed regularly?
Jesus also has enough faith in his disciples to send them out on their own ahead of him. But they struggle to have the same faith in Jesus. It’s easy to disparage the disciples for not recognizing Jesus as he walked across the sea toward them. But don’t we often fail to recognize Jesus in our daily lives, especially in times of turmoil?
Even after Jesus tells the disciples not to be afraid, Peter needs more proof. With such little faith, it’s hard enough to put one foot in front of the other, let alone walk on water! When Peter sinks and cries out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus stretches out his hand and catches his beloved disciple. In what ways is Jesus reaching out to us, responding to even our quietest cries to be saved?
Always the teacher, Jesus asks Peter, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Then Jesus offers yet another sign—the calming of the storm—which allows the disciples to recognize him as the Son of God. What signs of God at work in the world will we see today? How might we live our faith boldly, trusting that if we falter Jesus will offer a saving hand?
—Jeremy Langford is the director of communications for the Midwest Jesuits and author of Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA
Lord, in many ways we are like Peter. When we take our eyes off of you, life can become overwhelming. Help us to refocus on you and therein remember what really matters in life. We know the waves will come and torrential winds will shake our foundation. There is no escaping this. But through it all, we have your assurance that nothing can separate us from you. Though you might seem so distant, we will not claim this as our truth. Instead you seek us in the dark of night and promise to bring us into the light.
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!