When I was learning to swim, I must admit that I was terrified of water. I hated getting water in my eyes, mouth, and nose. In fact, I didn’t learn to swim until AFTER I was honorably discharged from the US Navy. Then Eureka! I discovered that the key to staying afloat was proper exhaling and inhaling. I no longer fear water or drowning.

In today’s Gospel Peter does more than float; he walks on the sea until he takes his eyes off Jesus and succumbs to fear. Isn’t that the key to “staying afloat” in the midst of life’s storms and headwinds? The moment we lose our focus and stop reaching out to the Lord, fear gets the better of us and we go under. As FDR declared during the Great Depression: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’

What frightens you these days? In the midst of your fears, do your turn inward or outward to the saving arms of the Lord? Do your fears cloud your vision of the Lord coming across the water to rescue and embrace you? Remember: the Lord is the master of wind and sea and storm.

—Fr. Ed Witt, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Province and pastor of St. Isaac Jogues Church in Rapid City, SD.