Walking on Water

Walking on Water

As soon as I heard the mass readings, I grew excited. What can I say? They were always some of my favorite stories. It always struck me as wonderful that God would come in the tiniest of whispers, as He came to Elijah. And the gospel, of course, was always impressive — Jesus walks on water! What a miracle! Just reread it…

NABRE

Matthew 14

22 Then he made the disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. 24Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. 25During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. 27At once [Jesus] spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” 28Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw how [strong] the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32After they got into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”

Isn’t that a great story?!

This artwork immediately came to mind. Jesus walks on the water, with the sea churning all around Him and the sun acting as a halo for Him.

Christ Walking on the water, by Julius Sergius Von Klever, c. 1880. Private collection.

One of the biggest things that occurred to me during mass was that in both the first reading and the gospel reading, God is not the one who is creating turmoil. In fact, far from being chaotic, He is the one who, even in the midst of great turmoil, brings order into chaos. For the first reading, He comes after the big, powerful displays of nature in their chaos. In the gospel, Jesus walks the sea — a powerful force of nature — and even has Peter walk on it for a little bit.

The fact that God is the one who is bringing order and subduing nature is an incredible idea. I know that, were I all-powerful, I would probably want to use my power to do something to impress people and gain fame and fortune. And that would mean that I would use my powers to make grandiose displays. And the most grandiose displays are the ones that bring chaos in the world.

But God seems to prefer to use His power to come in this chaos and bring order to it. He would rather come as a whisper than a violent display. And He would rather help us walk across water than leave us to toss around the seas, alone.

And this is very comforting. Because that means, even in the midst of our trials and tribulations, where we are being tossed about in our own seas and wondering if we’re going to make it through, perhaps Jesus is walking across that sea and stretching forth His Hand, inviting us to trust in Him and walk with HIm.

Dear Jesus,

Thank You for being present in the midst of our difficulties and sorrows. Help us more fully trust in You, even when we’re afraid and doubtful.

Amen.

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