In today’s Gospel reading, Matthew (14:22-33) tells us that the disciples are sent out in a boat which, late in the evening finds itself on stormy seas; the disciples are frightened and Jesus apparently absent. Then, at the fourth watch they see a ghost walking towards them on the water which at first terrifies them. Then they hear the Master’s voice, “Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.” Peter responds by asking the Lord to call for him to come to him across the water. Jesus says ‘Come’ and Peter steps out of the boat and walks across the water until he is unsettled by a gust of wind. At that point he loses his faith and begins to sink until Jesus comes to the rescue, puts out his hand and they both climb into the safety of the boat.
The boat and the disciples represent the Church and today, many in the Church are unsettled, perhaps even frightened. The Church seems to be in a storm beset by clerical abuse, allegations of drug fuelled homosexual orgies in the Vatican and challenges to its teaching both from the world and from within. Some of its leaders seem to be at loggerheads with one group arguing for this, another for that. Traditionalists competing with liberals. The laity either oblivious or confused and their numbers in the West declining. All bad news.
This passage, therefore, proclaims the Good News that we have a Saviour and provides practical advice. First of all have courage, we must not be afraid. Then we must call out to Jesus who will come to our aid in his time (prayer). Finally we must trust and have complete faith in the Lord. After all, the Church belongs to God, He has a plan, He knows what he is doing.
Keep your eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, reach out to him in prayer and let him act in his own way and in his own time. Do not be afraid of what is happening in the current storm, for truly Jesus is the Son of God.