Today’s gospel has it all: faith versus fear, walking on water versus drowning, doubt versus belief. Promotional copy might read: “If you read one scripture passage this year, make it Matthew 14:22-36!”
Here we learn that Jesus prays. Alone. After feeding the crowds, he goes up the mountainside to connect with his Father. Even Jesus needs periods of solitude and prayer to fulfill his mission. What if we followed his example and prayed regularly?
Jesus also has enough faith in his disciples to send them out on their own ahead of him. But they struggle to have the same faith in Jesus. It’s easy to disparage the disciples for not recognizing Jesus as he walked across the sea toward them. But don’t we often fail to recognize Jesus in our daily lives, especially in times of turmoil?
Even after Jesus tells the disciples not to be afraid, Peter needs more proof. With such little faith, it’s hard enough to put one foot in front of the other, let alone walk on water! When Peter sinks and cries out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus stretches out his hand and catches his beloved disciple. In what ways is Jesus reaching out to us, responding to even our quietest cries to be saved?
Always the teacher, Jesus asks Peter, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Then Jesus offers yet another sign—the calming of the storm—which allows the disciples to recognize him as the Son of God. What signs of God at work in the world will we see today? How might we live our faith boldly, trusting that if we falter Jesus will offer a saving hand?
—Jeremy Langford is the director of communications for the Midwest Jesuits and author of Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA