August 9 – Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
What is Peter doing walking on water! Now I know that it is frightening to cling to a little boat in the midst of the storm. But isn’t stepping out of that boat onto the waves complete madness? Why would Peter leave the relative security of the boat and set out on his own onto the sea? Peter leaves the boat and sets out into the storm, because he knows that Jesus is there. In doing this, Peter gives us an example of discipleship. The disciple always realizes that the safest place to be is close to the Lord. Even though a boat might be keeping us afloat, that boat could sink. And when it comes to sinking, we want to be close to Jesus. The gospel shows us that Peter’s decision was right. Because when he begins to sink, Jesus stretches out his hand and catches him.
Today’s gospel, then, calls us to discern: where is Jesus? Is Jesus sitting with us in the boat of security in which we sail, or is Jesus calling us to step out of that boat and come to him? We might have realized for some time that the job we are in is not the best one for us and that we will never reach our potential if we stay in it. And yet, there is security in that regular paycheck and we have no assurance that we could find something better. The disciple asks, “Where is Jesus?” Is he with me in the boat in which I sit? Or is he asking me to step out of that boat and walk on the water? We might be in a relationship that is abusive, in which we are not valued or respected. And yet, there is stability and some companionship in the relationship, and we are terrified to think that we might have to live alone. The disciple asks whether Jesus is asking us to stay in the security of that relationship or to leave it behind. We might for years have had a dream to develop some talent that is ours, to organize a program, to attain a goal. But that would require much effort and some risk, and we have no guarantee that we would succeed. It is certainly easier to keep things the way that they are. But Jesus may be calling us to walk on the waves.
Now to be sure, there are many times when Jesus is with us in the boat, and he wants things to stay just the way that they are. But today’s gospel reminds us that that is not always the case. Sometimes Jesus is asking us to leave what is familiar, what is easy, what seems secure, and come to him in the midst of the storm. And when he calls us, here is the good news. Although the waves may be high and the winds strong, and people might think that we are crazy to step out of the boat, we are simply being disciples. We are only going to where Jesus is, taking with us the confidence that he will not let us sink. He will give us life.
Have a blessed week!