Grace: an intimate knowledge of our Lord, Who has become man for me, that I may love Him more and follow Him more closely.
Text for Prayer: Mt. 14:22-33
Reflection: Once before (Mt. 8:23-27), the Apostles were in a boat in the midst of a raging storm. That time, Jesus was with them. This time, He sent the Apostles ahead of Him while He tended to the crowds. Their Master was nowhere in sight. As far as the Apostles were concerned, they would have to fend for themselves in the storm without the aid of the Master. But Jesus was with them.
The Psalmist proclaims that “even thought I walk through a valley dark as death, I should fear no danger, for you are at my side” (Ps. 23:4). He never says he knows he will be fine because he can see God, but only that “your rod and your staff comfort me” (23:5). Despite the fact that the Apostles couldn’t see Jesus and thought that they were alone, He was in the storm just as they were.
Jesus is in the storm with the Apostles, walking toward the boat, when He sees that they are even more scared because they think He is a ghost, He calls out to them “Courage! It’s me! Don’t be afraid.” (Mt. 14:27). The Apostles are not given sunshine, calm waters, and a good breeze, but they are given the strength to endure the storm. With the courage Jesus has given them, they may walk through the valley of death without fear, so long as Jesus is there to strengthen and console them.
Upon seeing Jesus, Peter calls out “Lord, if it is You, tell me to come to You across the water” (v. 28). Jesus’ response is simple: “Come”. Peter climbs out of the boat, starts to walk on the water, ad things are fine, at first. While Peter is walking on the water, he begins “noticing the wind” and “he took fright” (v. 30). At that moment, what matters most to Peter is not that the Lord is with him, but that the wind is dangerous. So he begins to sink.
Even though Peter failed Jesus and doubted His care for him, and even though Jesus could expect Peter to do so again, He saves Peter from the waters. For Jesus to just say to Peter “Why should I bother with you? I can find another apostle who won’t keep doing this.” would be understandable. But this is not the way of Jesus. Instead, He answers Peter’s plea for help by taking Peter by the hand, as one might take a child.
After this, Jesus rebukes Peter’s lack of faith- and rightly so- asking “why did you doubt?” Peter knew first-hand that in all his labors and tasks, the Lord had never abandoned him or failed to provide for him- not twelve hours before he saw the Lord miraculously provide for 5,000 people. In rebuking Peter, Jesus rebukes Peter’s doubt that He will not provide for Peter and that He will not be there in Peter’s endeavors to assist him. After all this, Jesus leads Peter back into the boat, and the storms cease. Upon seeing all of this, the Apostles confess simply “Truly, you are the Son of God” (v. 33).
Questions: Why don’t the Apostles recognize Jesus? Why does Jesus take Peter back? When have you been in this situation, where you were afraid and overwhelmed, when Jesus reminds you that He is with you?