Sunday, August 10, 2008

On Peter walking on water

Jesus walks on water.

Part of this Sunday's gospel reads:

"Peter said to him in reply, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come." Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how (strong) the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!". Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" After they got into the boat, the wind died down. ". (Mat 14:28-32)

Now there's an old joke which says that Peter should just have asked where the rocks are.

But seriously, Mark, John, and Matthew all agree that Jesus walked on water, but it is only Matthew who tells us that Peter tried to walk on water. Matthew seems to emphasize not Peter's doubt, but his faith: Command me to come to you... Of the disciples, it was Peter alone who dared to attempt what was apparently reserved for Jesus: walking on water. As Peter rejoined his companions on the boat, we can imagine him a bit embarassed and all soaked. But we can be certain that Peter was most invigorated and happy with the experience, as is the case when one advances in faith.

As one follows the Master in earnest, each moment can only be an opportunity in advancing in faith. St Paul always finds the imagery for straining forward for the Lord, as there is always the occasion for "forgetting what lies behind and setting our hearts on the prize". On this note it is worthwhile to quote St Gregory the Great:

"Certainly in this world, the human spirit is like a boat foolishly fighting against the river's rush: one is never allowed to stay still, because unless one forges ahead, one will slide down backstream".

If one does not grow, one slides backwards, and sinks. "O you of little faith..."...this is addressed not only to Peter but to all the disciples and future disciples as well.

Let us forge forward, with full trust in Jesus, for we too can walk on water.

1 comment:

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