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 (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Discipleship takes courage. There can be no doubt about that. It was the fearless sense of discipleship that led Peter to beg Christ to call him out on to the waters, despite the need for miraculous power to do so. But the fear of the wind and the waves caused Peter to falter.It is our hope in God that gives us courage. When we put our trust in God and obey His command to “be not afraid,” we become fearless disciples with an unstoppable zeal for bringing souls to the Christ we have come to love with all of our hearts. We become enflamed with a passion that knows no limits.
But this sort of trust in God changes our faith away from ourselves, and that is what many of us fear. The transformation means that our own limitedness will have to come in contact with the One Absolute and Infinite God. This is the God that “scatters the proud in their conceit” (Luke 1:51) and destroyed the mighty tower of Babel. All that we have come to rely on in ourselves will be burned away as we are left utterly helpless in front of the Lord.
What we fear might happen when we set out to meet Jesus on the waters is going to happen. If it happened to Saint Peter, it will happen to us. Still, that is no reason to fear. It is precisely because God is the God of hope that we are able to seek and find Him in that hope. Even as our lack of faith in God removes the foundation out from below us, Jesus Christ, the Son of God has taken it upon Himself to be the one that reaches out to catch us. That is the only sort of God worth putting our faith in.
—Fr. John Brown, S.J.
Lord, in many ways we, too, are like Peter. When we take our eyes off of you, life can become overwhelming. Help us to refocus on you and therein remember what really matters in life. We know the waves will come and torrential winds will shake our foundation. There is no escaping this. But through it all we have your assurance that nothing can separate us from you. Though you might seem so distant, we will not claim this as our truth. Instead you seek us in the dark of night and promise to bring us into the light.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team