The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
August 9, 2020 – Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 14:22-33
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We humans sometimes think we can do almost anything. “Illusions of grandeur” is how this tendency can be described. No task is too difficult for us. No goal is unachievable. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having high ideals. Humans can do amazing things. But we can’t do everything. That’s what Peter learned when he tries to do the impossible.
Today’s gospel offers the delightful account of Jesus walking on the water. And Peter’s reaction, which suggests a human response that many of us might have.
Let’s first think about what Peter might have been thinking when he stepped out of the boat into the choppy waters. He saw Jesus calmly walking on the water. For a fisherman, which was Peter’s trade, this skill of water-walking would be quite useful. One could fish anywhere on the lake and wouldn’t even need a boat. So, Peter asked Jesus if he should give it a try. Jesus said, “Why not?”
At first, according to the gospel account, Peter was successful. As long as he looked at Jesus and relied on the power of Jesus, he remained atop the waves. But when he was overcome with fear and doubt, a totally expected human response, he started to sink into the water’s depths. It was then that he sought the help of Jesus. “Save me!” And Jesus did. Peter was pulled from the deep.
Many biblical scholars suggest that this story was written for the early church. After Easter and Pentecost, the followers of Jesus set off to share the message of Jesus and invite others to live the life that Jesus offered, a life of helping all those in need and seeking justice for all. They were entering “the stormy seas of the world.” And Jesus promised to remain with them.
There would be times, however, when the followers of Jesus doubted, especially when they felt that they were alone, without the assistance of God that Jesus had promised them. In those difficult times, they would be tempted to either try harder or just quit. That’s when it’s time to recall the promise of Jesus that he would be with them, no matter what. His resurrection and ascension did not signify his departure. No, it was the opposite. He would be with them and us, especially in storm times. Like now. We may need to be reminded that God is there to help us, no matter what. We are not alone.
©David M. Thomas, PhD