Grace: To know the Lord, so that I may love Him more and follow Him more closely, always trusting that He is there to help me through the storms of my life.
Text: Mt. 14: 22-33
In a post featured on this blog a few years ago, David Paternostro, SJ, provides the following words that can be helpful for picturing the scene in this passage and using the passage for prayer:
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…
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, and things are fine, at first. While Peter is walking on the water, he begins “noticing the wind” and becomes afraid (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.
We all pass through many storms in our lives. The Church itself can often seem like it is caught in a storm as it seeks to live out its mission in the midst of a hostile world. Much like the wind in this passage that blows against the boat, we might feel that that nothing is going our way and that everyone is allied against us.
And just when we think that we have begun to find our way out of such a storm and recognize that Jesus might be there to help us out of a difficult situation, like Peter, we might begin to think that we should ask for some sort of proof that it really is Jesus who is there to save us. We might even forget that it is Him, and focus on the winds of the storm instead. Or perhaps we might even say to ourselves, “OK, Jesus, you’ve come this far to help, but now I’m going to go the rest of the way on my own.”
Unless we are willing to go all of the way and allow Jesus to take us by the hand, we will sink like Peter. The disciples were not given sunshine, calm waters, and a good breeze for sailing and neither are we allowed to skate through life. Just as the disciples were given strength to endure the storm, so are we. For a moment, Peter may have forgotten about this, but Jesus was there to remind him. Today, Jesus still comes to remind us that he is always there to save us from our worst fears and temptations.
Questions: What storms have I passed through or am currently passing through in my own life? How have I sought to reach out to Jesus in the midst of these storms? How have I reacted when I have seen him approach? Am I willing to let him save me with his truth and love? Or do I prefer to go the way of doubt, fear, and selfishness, looking for help elsewhere?