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Pastor's Column

Peter Walks on the Sea

Pastor’s Column

19th Sunday Ordinary Time

August 9, 2020

Photo by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

Jesus dismissed the crowds, sent the disciples away in a boat and headed for the hills for some solitude and prayer with God (Matthew 14:22-23). Meanwhile, the poor disciples were battling a terrible storm on the Sea of Galilee, a storm Jesus had deliberately sent them into. Jesus was no doubt aware of the struggles of his disciples, and the disciples must have wondered about this too. After all, hadn’t he sent them out in the midst of the storm? And wasn’t Jesus praying up in the hills, where he could no doubt see the struggle taking place? Why did Jesus put them through this?

When Jesus does finally come to the rescue, it is at the fourth watch of the night, right before dawn. In other words, Jesus prayed all night and left the disciples to struggle alone until he was completely finished praying. Jesus thus teaches us the importance of prayer (and solitude if possible) in our own lives too. All our major decisions ought to begin by at least a moment of prayer.

Like the disciples’ night on the choppy seas, life is often full of storms and struggles; what is more, it can seem as if this is just the way God wants it. Jesus allows his disciples, both then and now, to do battle with trials of all kinds, because they are necessary for our growth, our faith, our trust and our future. Jesus may not show up until the last minute, but he is always with us always helping us.

When Jesus does finally arrive, Peter and the others are terrified by this ghostly apparition approaching them on the waters. Who wouldn’t be?! "If it is really you, Jesus, let me come to you on the waters." Peter gets out of the boat, thus becoming the only man besides Jesus to have ever walked on water. Yet soon, Peter begins to sink. Amazingly, Peter is afraid, not of the waves, but the wind. Sometimes, it is the little things that get us into the most trouble.

Why then did Peter sink? Because he took his eyes off Jesus. This cannot be emphasized enough in our era of violence, fear and viruses and so many troubles everywhere. Peter could accomplish the impossible, even walk on water, as long as he kept his eyes, his focus on Jesus. Therefore, on our own pilgrimage of life, we always strive to keep our eyes fixed on heaven, on Jesus. When we get into trouble, it is often because we are focused too much on ourselves, on only our own needs (rather than others), on our fears instead of trusting in the Lord to keep his promises to us. Even when the storms of life are upon us and he delays in rescuing us, we will not sink, because we have not lost sight of our savior, walking across the stormy waters of our hearts, even now.

Father Gary

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