It is the 4th hour of the night; sometime between 3 and 6 a.m. The sun is just beginning to peek over the horizon. Earlier, Jesus had shepherded his disciples into a boat and pushed them off deeper into the lake. Jesus himself headed toward one of his favorite places for solitude, up the hillside by himself. Out on the lake, until a few minutes ago, everyone in the boat was asleep or in that twilight state between sleep and alertness; that brief moment when you’re not quite sure if you’re awake or still dreaming. Suddenly, the rocking of the boat shook them all awake. Gasping for air they shouted to each other: “Where’s Jesus?”
Then Peter spied Jesus in the mist and heard “Come!” At Jesus’ beckoning, Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, his feet found steady grounding even in the liquid churning sea. It’s difficult, isn’t it, to keep your eyes on the goal when there is a whirlwind surrounding you? But, remember, as long as we keep our eyes focused on Jesus, on our overall goal, and on each other, we’ll stay afloat with a tangible sense of peace. Don’t disregard that fact that it was at dawn when Jesus came toward his disciples walking on the water. You may have to squint until your eyes adjust to the darkness to make out clearly your surroundings. But listen! It’s not a ghost. There is a whisper that, strange as it seems, is booming over the sound of the threatening waves of the storms in life: “Do not be afraid. It is I.”
Jesus is reaching out a hand toward us, but it will fall empty to his side if we do not reach out in return. Jesus, in the person of our donors, reaches out with eager hands to help us; sometimes in ways we may not be sure we really need. For the gift to be received we figuratively grasp their hands in acceptance of their generosity. We strive to respond without fear when we see them walking on the water toward us with their gift of self. Like impulsive Peter, we speak up: “If that is really you, Lord, command me to come to you on the water.”
There is a story about Mark Twain on one of his visits to the Holy Land. He and his wife were in Capernaum. One moonlit night they were walking along the Sea of Galilee and decided to take a romantic boat ride. Twain asked how much the charge would be. Assuming the couple to be wealthy Americans the owner of the boat told them an outrageous fee. Mark Twain thanked him and walked away. After a few steps he turned to his wife, “Now I know why Jesus walked!”
At some point in our lives, we just have to leave behind the safety and security of our boats. We have to step into the realm of the unknown. We must be willing to trust our life to our God’s care. It’s difficult to leave our safety nets. We work hard to insulate ourselves from the danger of failure. The threat of the unknown can be paralyzing. It’s pretty comfortable in the boat we’ve constructed. It’s not fancy but we have everything we need. Then God invites us to step out of our boat and venture into an unknown future.
Gesturing with his hand, Jesus repeats, “Come.” Why did Jesus not go to Peter; why did he beckon him to “come”? That’s the lesson for us. We can’t sit, as they say, on our laurels, in our boat and do nothing. When the storms of life are blowing all around us, Jesus says: COME. Like a parent coaxing an infant to take a first step. “You”, Jesus says: COME; Come apart and rest in Me. I am always within reach. Grab that life jacket or that raft or an inner tube and get those arms and legs moving. SWIM! Pray, yes, but don’t forget to paddle, swim or row. Take your time if you need to; catch your breath. And don’t worry about calming the storm; I’ll take care of that. You just calm yourself. Look around. You will spot me in the mist, beckoning to you: COME!
~Reflection by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB
Please join us this week as we pray that all people will realize the profound impact of gun violence. Help us to be peaceful and diplomatic in times of trouble. Guide us, we pray towards peace, and away from all forms of disrespect and violence.
We also call to mind this week the peoples of India who, on August 15th will be celebrating the 77th Independence Day, marking 76 years of freedom from British rule. In India, the people are suffering the effects of the Monsoon season: heavy rains and flooding; loss of crops in infestation of creatures seeking higher ground.
In your prayers bet God’s mercy and kindness for the peoples who are suffering the devastation of fires, flooding and extremes of heat.