Christ Rescuing Peter from Drowning, Lorenzo Veneziano, 1370
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:22-31
The story of Jesus walking on water has many lessons that apply in our daily lives as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. Earlier in the day, Jesus had just learned that His cousin, John the Baptist, had been beheaded by Herod. Wishing to find solitude, He set off in a boat to a “deserted place” (Mt 14:13). But waiting on the shore were hordes of people. Seeing the enormity of the crowd, Jesus had pity on them and cured their sick. In spite of His grief over the death of His cousin, Jesus took time to care for those in need (Mt 14:14). Because it was getting late, Jesus’ disciples asked Him to dismiss the people so they could “go to the villages and buy food for themselves” (Mt 14:15). Again Jesus was moved with pity for the crowd, feeding more than 5,000 men, not including women and children, with five loaves and two fish. After an exhausting day, Jesus asked His disciples to take their boat to the other side of the lake, saying He would meet up with them later. Finally, Jesus was able to take some much needed time to rest and pray to His Heavenly Father.
If Jesus needed time alone to pray, how much more do we need this time? Jesus needed time to rest and to seek the will of the Father. He is showing us the importance of time alone to pray, to contemplate, to meditate and to listen to the Father, seeking His direction for our lives. Jesus is showing us the road to sanctity.
Note too that in spite of His grief and distress over the murder of His cousin, John the Baptist, Jesus took time to care for the needs of others. One of the best ways to deal with the problems we face is to help, support and encourage others with the problems they are facing. Scripture is a source of strength, encouragement, and wisdom during struggles and hardships. Just as we find comfort in God’s Word, God expects us to do the same for the hurting people that He places in our lives.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
After a long day with Jesus, the disciples were in a boat rowing across a large sea. Matthew’s account says that the boat was being tossed about by the wind and the waves. Rowing in these conditions was strenuous and the disciples had not slept for nearly a day. In their tired state, it is no surprise that they thought a ghost was walking on the water towards them. But it was no ghost! Jesus was walking toward them on the sea. Seeing and hearing the fear and distress of His disciples, Jesus called out to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid” (Mt 14:27). This would be one of many times that the disciples heard these calming words of Jesus.
Peter, a little skeptical of the stranger walking across the violent sea, asked for confirmation from Jesus that it was truly him. “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water” (Mt 14:28). Jesus simply replied, “Come” (Mt. 14:29). Peter immediately stepped out of the boat and started to walk toward Jesus without thinking about what he had just done. After his initial enthusiasm, Peter started to notice the rough sea raging around him. Taking his eyes off Jesus, he began to sink and called out to Jesus to save him. Jesus reached out his hand to pull him out of the sea and rebuked Peter by saying, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Mt. 14:31). After the two of them got back into the boat, the wind and the sea became calm.
It is interesting to note that as long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he was able to stay on top of the water in spite of the raging sea and blowing winds that tossed him about. Here is another lesson for us. In the trials that we face in our marriages and families, we need to keep our focus on Jesus and not on our problems. Even if we start to sink in the roaring sea of turmoil, distress, and doubt, Jesus is there to reach out His hand to help us. We have nothing to fear for He is with us always.
Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid…I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Matthew 28:10, 20
These are the first and last words of the risen Jesus to His disciples in the Gospel of St. Matthew. Jesus still speaks these words to us today. We have nothing to fear for He is with us, now and always.