Daily Reflection
August 8th, 1999
Andy Alexander, S.J.
University Ministry and the Collaborative Ministry Office
The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Kings 19:9, 10, 11-12, 13-14
Rom 9:1-5
Mt 14:22-33
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
    But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
    and, beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!"

Peter's encounter with Jesus is so much like our own.  Jesus had just shown them how to feed the crowds, not paralyzed by their emptiness, but trusting in his power.  Now he sends them out onto the sea alone.  When the wind and the waves get rough, he is there with them - right where they are, at sea.

They are afraid, fearing it's a ghost.  Isn't this so often the case with us?  No matter how buffeted by rough seas we might be, we tend to be wary of believing Jesus could really be with us.  Am I just imagining him with me?  Am I just talking to myself?  Is he really here, in the midst of this?  What good does it/he do anyway?

He assures them and tells them not to be afraid.  This is so wonderful.  If I ever wonder what Jesus is saying to me, in the midst of a stormy sea, I can be sure he is saying this:  "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."

Peter gets some courage.  Well, at least with a slight "test" involved.  "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water."  Jesus doesn't get put off by "tests."  He loves to act on our desires - to empower even our smallest amounts of courage.  If I want to know what Jesus is saying to my deepest desires, I can be sure he is saying, "Come."

So, Peter gets out of his boat.  A fisherman.  Nobody knows the sea better.  He starts walking across the water toward Jesus.  This is us, when we trust Jesus' invitation to come to him.  But something happens.  "But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened."  Peter takes his eyes off of Jesus.  He let the wind and the waves get to him.  For a moment he thought he was walking on that water by his own power.  And fear ended this walk toward Jesus, and he sank.  Haven't we all had this same experience?  We are moving toward Jesus, in the midst of some stormy conditions in our lives, and we become self-conscious, self-absorbed, and discount the whole thing.

Fortunately, Jesus was there.  And Peter, a bit wet and embarrassed, didn't drown.  We won't either.  We, too can stand in humble, grateful awe before him.

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