“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid (Matthew 14:27).” Jesus speaks these comforting words to the disciples who were overwhelmed while riding in the storm-tossed boat on the Sea of Galilee.
When one goes out on the Sea of Galilee during the day it seems like a large lake that could not possibly be intimidating for one to sail across in a small boat. However, at night it gets really dark and the winds often blow fiercely down the mountains toward the sea causing dangerous conditions.
The disciples were returning from the feeding of the thousands to the town of Capernaum by boat and got overconfident on sailing a familiar route but at an unfamiliar time—night. All of a sudden rather than navigating familiar waters they found themselves a few miles off shore and in a situation, that was out of their control.
Jesus enters into the out of control situation by demonstrating His Lordship and mastery over creation as He walks upon the troubled waters. From His path upon the churning and tumultuous sea, Jesus speaks into the fears of the disciples by encouraging them to set their fears aside and trust. Placing his faith in Jesus Peter states, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water (Matthew 14:28).” Jesus beckons for Peter to walk toward Him across the agitated waters, as Peter’s faith is strong he walks towards the Lord, as he focuses on himself Peter begins to sink, leading him to cry out, “Lord save me!” Jesus then says to Peter, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt (Matthew 14:31).”
This Gospel account is describing our life in Christ. Many people who believe in Christ have storms or difficulties in life. It can be our intention before the storm to act on our own when life is going great and all the blessings are coming our way. Even thinking to ourselves during the good times in life that down the road we will give back to the Church or Community as a sign of gratitude. But how quickly can our fortune change and we find our health failing or money running short or even people we love getting sick and dying.
During the storms of life do we cower in fear on the ship of our own making and forget that Jesus is in our midst? Or do we establish a relationship of trust through daily prayer and regular service of God’s people that helps form us to call upon Jesus when we are getting rocked by life’s challenges and difficulties?
Jesus Himself identifies that area that is weak in this whole situation and that is faith. If we follow Jesus in what He says and does then we must be willing to trust in Him when life challenges us. We cannot afford to be “cafeteria Catholics” who pick and choose what they want to hear and believe in. Our souls are in real jeopardy if we ignore Jesus in the feel-good parts of our life and then curse Him or whine for Him in the storms of our life.
Rather than seeking Jesus when it is convenient for us, we need to be honest and look at the gift of faith we have received and say yes, I am living my life with complete trust in the Lord or no I only relate to Jesus when life gets crazy. If you find yourself lacking in trust in Jesus, take time this week to examine your life and identify the places where faith needs some encouragement and also where priorities need to be shifted so that Jesus is first in life.