From Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 14:22-33):
Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he would send the crowds away. After sending the crowds away he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, while the boat, by now far out on the lake, was battling with a heavy sea, for there was a head-wind. In the fourth watch of the night he went towards them, walking on the lake, and when the disciples saw him walking on the lake they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost’ they said, and cried out in fear. But at once Jesus called out to them, saying, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ It was Peter who answered. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water.’ ‘Come’ said Jesus. Then Peter got out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus across the water, but as soon as he felt the force of the wind, he took fright and began to sink. ‘Lord! Save me!’ he cried. Jesus put out his hand at once and held him. ‘Man of little faith,’ he said ‘why did you doubt?’ And as they got into the boat the wind dropped. The men in the boat bowed down before him and said, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’
Peter is quite bold at first, encouraging Jesus to reveal himself and invite him to walk out on the water. And as soon as Jesus invites him he steps out and is able to walk on the waves. Quite incredible. It is one thing to have God made man walking on the water, but it is quite another thing for a normal human being to do the same!
Yet Peter’s confidence is soon shaken by the force of the wind. This makes him feel uneasy and chips away at his faith, causing him to start to drown.
Peter’s experience can be aligned to what many of us experience in our day-to-day lives. Each day Jesus asks us to ‘come’ just as he did to Peter. He wants us to use our free will to grow close to him and to surrender to him. That is what true love is; making that choice to give ourselves completely to another.
Jesus calls us each and every day to reach out to him and we must count ourselves to be very blessed to be able to get up close and personal with Jesus in the Eucharist. What a gift! Jesus, as he rests in his earthly home in the tabernacle, calls out to us: ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good’!
Yet it is never quite this simple. Like the wind that shook Peter’s faith, we too are shaken by outside influences; whether it is an argument against the existence of God, the imposition of secular values, pressures of family, pressures of work, or perhaps abusive clergy. There are so many things that, in today’s horrendously busy world, can come between us and Jesus.
And while these things get in the way, we must only allow them to slow us down in our pursuit of Christ. We must never let them break the bond that exists between us and our Saviour. When God formed us He embedded His unfailing love for us in our hearts. Not one person is exempt from this. God loves us all and He has created a firm bond tying us to Him with the hope that when we die he can pull on that cord and we will be waiting for Him on the other end.
Sometimes the bond will be shaken by outside influences, just as it was for Peter. But crucially, Peter recognised that he needed Jesus to help him and, further, Jesus’ love for Peter was unfailing. That is why Jesus was able to save him from drowning. And it is the same for us. When we fail, Jesus is still there waiting to help us. We just need to cry out ‘Lord, save me!’.