Last week’s gospel told of how Jesus fed over 5000 people with five loaves and two fish. By his simple action of being willing to share the little food he had with this large crowd he challenged the crowd to share whatever food they had with them with those around them. As we know there was plenty of food left over.
After all this excitement Jesus wanted to be alone so he sent the crowd away and told the disciples to go too. Jesus needed some peace and quiet.
The weather this summer has been pretty unsettled. We can start out with a beautiful day and then be caught in a heavy down pour. Imagine the number of boaters who head out on the water and everything is fine and then out of nowhere they are caught in a violent wind and pouring rain and they really are at the mercy of the elements. It’s the same with golfers. I’ve been caught twice this year in real downpours, thunder and lightning and all. And no umbrella.
A number of years ago I went with some friends to Port Dover to sail in a friends new sail boat. There were five of us and the owner of the sailboat was a beginner. We set sail in beautiful weather. Within the hour the sky darkened and a strong wind seem to come out of nowhere and we knew we were in trouble. The boat owner said,’ this is beyond me’ and we pulled down the sails and turned on the motor and headed for shore. It was an anxious, ever a frightening ride home as the wind grew stronger and the waves grew higher and the rain never stopped. I’m sure we all made our own acts of contrition as we made for the safety of land. The wharf at Port Dover never looked so good.
Peter and his friends were seasoned fishermen. They’d been through storms like this before and they appreciated the danger there were in. One of them saw something strange – a form, a ghost walking over the waves. They cried out their fear but this form, this ghost identified himself as their friend with the encouraging words,’ take heart, it is I, don’t be afraid.’ We have no idea whatever possessed Peter to say what he said,’ Lord if it is you bid me come to you on the water.’ Was he showing off, did he want to look braver than the others?’ Jesus took up Peter’s challenge and bade him come to him. We know the rest. When he took his eyes of Jesus and realized the mess he was in and how helpless he was Peter began to sink. Naturally Jesus reached out and caught him and got him into the boat and the wind and waves ceased and there was a calm.
We all know the word swamped. How many times in our lives have we felt swamped, overwhelmed by something that was going on in our lives? We don’t know what to do; we don’t know where to turn. We feel helpless as we try to sort things out with a spouse who just doesn’t see the problem, who just doesn’t want to talk about it. We feel swamped by unwillingness of an aging mother or father to accept our help or advice as how to make difficult decisions. We are confused as to what to do with young sons and daughters who are so confused themselves but don’t want advice. We know young adults who struggle with depression as they face their reality that after all their years of study and hard work it means nothing in today’s market. We can be tempted to give up as we try to fit into a new job, a new neighbourhood, a new parish and meet coldness and disinterest. We know that sinking feeling as we face our own weaknesses in areas of our lives knowing we have not kept our promises and good resolutions. We feel we can be overcome by the waves of disbelief as we sense an emptiness in our prayer life and the absence of God. We find it hard to stay afloat as we wonder if it is all worthwhile. How many times in our stormy lives have we called out in fright and doubt ‘save me Lord?’
In those confusing and painful times Jesus chides us for our lack of trust in his love and care for us. Why do we doubt? Didn’t He tell us he will always be with us? Didn’t he warn us that following him would not be easy? Didn’t he say, come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome and I will refresh you? Finally, didn’t Jesus die on the cross for each one of us? Jesus is our personal Lord, Jesus is our personal savior. Each one of us means something to him, each one of us is important to him. If we can hold on to that conviction then we will not be swamped by the storms that come out of nowhere in all our lives and we will answer the invitation he gave to Peter as he called to him over the waves ‘come’ and he will stretch out his hand and catch us and hold us and see us through our storm. May we always trust his words, ‘take heart, it is I, do not be afraid.’