Sunday, August 11, 2002

Follow or Falter?

Matthew 14:22-33

After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. "It is a ghost," they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." 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 Peter, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, "Truly, you are the Son of God."

This was the Gospel reading for today, the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. We had a visiting priest and he had a great comment on the passage I emphasized in bold face. Quite often we allow ourselves to get sidetracked, we let things of little consequence throw us off (Given the fact that Peter knew he was walking on water, what was a little extra wind?). We allow them to get us frustrated, we allow them to muddy the waters forcing us to lose sight of things as they are. All of these things make us lose our focus on Christ. As long as Peter kept focused on Christ, he walked on the water. Once Peter began to think about other things, to focus in on himself and his problems, he began to sink.

This story goes far beyond letting us know that if we have true faith, we can walk on water. Matter of fact, I don't think that is what this story is about at all. I believe what God wanted emphasized in this story, as He inspired Matthew to relate it to us, is that we need to always keep focused on Him. As soon as we worry about anything else, we will lose sight of Him and we will falter. We are called to bear our crosses and follow the Lord, we are not called to carry our crosses and complain and worry about how heavy they may or may not be, how much it hurts to carry them or who has a smaller and lighter cross. Pick up your cross, focus your eyes squarely on the beaten, bruised and bloodied back of Christ and follow Him wherever He goes.

As long as we do that, we shall not falter.

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