A priest friend of mine commented on the gospel readings of last week, this week, and next week as Cecil B. DeMille gospels, evoking the scene of the parting of Red Seas in the 10 Commandments: Charlton Heston raising his arms and splitting the sea – epic scene with amazing effects. For those of you too young to remember, think of CGI. These gospel readings have stupendous acts: multiplication of the loaves and fish last week, Jesus walking on water this week, and casting out a demon from a woman’s daughter next week.
Of course, his glib comment was made regarding the fact that most people don’t go any deeper than these miraculous acts made by God. Without going into detail, his point was that there was so much more behind these readings. Today’s reading is a great example of the pre-church movement and the lessons that Christ was instilling in His followers, and us. They are so appropriate for this time of the liturgical year, Ordinary Time, or as I think of it, the School of Discipleship, where we learn what it means to a follower of Christ and part of His mystical body.
In the gospel today we see that Christ sends His disciples out, forward. He has done this before and will do it again ‘sent them two and two before his face into every city and place’ we read in Luke. And: ‘he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two’ we read in Mark. They listen and moved as He directed. But they meet headwinds – contrary weather and they are buffeted about; they struggle, and they fear for their lives. But Jesus is aware of their plight; even from the mountain on which He is praying, talking with His Father. His disciples are never out of His mind and heart. He moves towards them; to be physically with them, to guide and help them. He is always with them.
The disciples are struggling to not only save themselves but now they are trying to come to grips with the seemingly impossible – Jesus walking towards them on the water. It is with the eyes and mind of man that they view this, they are terrified. Their faith has left them – for a while.
But in the Gospel Christ tells them: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” He urges them to look with the eyes and the understanding of faith. ‘Come’. Peter comes, at first, he is walking on the water, his eyes, mind, and heart on fixed on his teacher and Lord. However, Peter is human, and his humanity gets in the way, he starts to doubt, and he starts to sink. “Lord, save me!” – his call, his prayer for help. Peter is asking for Jesus to help him; his fear brings him back to the one who can save him.
And then comes the great lesson of this event. ‘Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?”’’. Jesus saves him even amidst doubt. And entering the boat, being with His disciples ‘the wind ceased’ Peace and calm for those who are with the Lord.
Our time is the same, we are no different that the disciples in the boats. We are constantly meeting headwinds and rough seas. Society challenges us and our faith at every turn. We, at times, feel as if we are floundering. We are tempted to just give in to the pressure from our friends, fellow citizens, society. Go with the winds of the times and not in the direction that Christ has led us. It is just easier and costs us less in terms of angst and turmoil. We feel as if we belong, even if we lose ourselves.
But we can take heart from the example of the gospel; Christ is near us, always. He is always aware of our plight and He will never let us succumb to the turmoil of the times. Flounder we will, it is inevitable; but He will be there with His hand out telling us “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” “Come” He is always giving us His hand is a given. The only uncertainty is whether we accept His hand; whether we put our trust in His help. Whether we truly love the Lord.
Friends, Christ will send us in a direction we don’t know, but rest assured it is always known to Him. “It is the LORD who goes before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you or forsake you; do not fear or be dismayed.“ we hear God tell Moses and us.
But, the gospel prepares us for even more.
Brothers and sisters, in a very real sense we are His hand to those around us. Our vocation, our apostolate, is to witness to this hope He continues to give. We are the witness of His love and the joy that faith in Him brings, we are living examples of the ‘calm in the boat’. By our journey, into the wind, we can walk on the rough water of today and bring the good news. By our participation in the discussion of the public square we can offer our alternative, life in Christ. We can stand among the waves and proclaim a better way, and by our actions it will be believable to those who hunger for something other than rough seas.
Faith is not an interior force that we strive to live by, it is a driving force within us to move out of us and bring this joy those we meet– this walk on water. Friends, we might be the only witness to this life that many will see. We might be the only hand that reaches down and helps someone up. We might be the only chance for many to hear His words: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” “Come”
 Mt 14:13-21
 Mt 14:22-23
 Mt 15:21-28
 Luke 10:1
 Mark 6:7
 Mt 14:27
 Mt 14:29
 Mt 14:30
 Mt 14:31
 Mt 14:32
 Mt 14:27,29
 Deut 31:8
 Mt 14:27,29