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.
“It is a ghost,” Jesus’s friends cried out, as he walked toward them on the water.
Of course, it was not a ghost, for Jesus was still with them in his physical body – a body not bound, it seems, by the laws of nature. Yet Jesus would still suffer bodily, bleed and die. His death was not play acting. What to make of this story, which seems so counter to the horror of the crucifixion?
God’s commitment to us, the Gospel dares to suggest, is stronger than physical death. To dwell in faith is not to dwell magically outside the powers of nature. It is to live within the embrace of God, whose ever-creative Spirit both sustains and transcends the powers, and limits, of nature.
What makes Jesus “Son of God” is his unshakeable faith in God’s unshakeable commitment to us, a love that endures both in and beyond the throes of death.
“Deep waters cannot quench love, nor rivers sweep it away.” (Song 8:7) But can we believe it?
—Christopher Pramuk is the University Chair of Ignatian Thought and Imagination and an associate professor of theology at Regis University.
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
For Love is strong as Death,
longing is fierce as Sheol.
Its arrows are arrows of fire,
flames of the divine.
Deep waters cannot quench love,
nor rivers sweep it away. (Song 8:6-7)
Let this be my mantra today – “Deep waters cannot quench your Love, my God, nor rivers sweep it away” – which I will try to repeat periodically throughout the day. Let these words on my lips and reverberating in my heart help me to face every trial, every moment, every hint of wonder, every relationship, with renewed confidence that you are with me, that your hand holds me above the water.
Deep waters cannot quench your Love, my God,
Nor rivers sweep it away.
—Christopher PramukPlease share the Good Word with your friends!