(Matthew 14: 22-34)
The present Gospel passage poses some questions for us today. Jesus, as God, knows everything, which includes the future. And yet, after the miracle of the multiplication of the five loaves, He makes His disciples board a boat and go before Him to the other side of Lake Gennesaret during the night. Why did He let them go alone, and not go with them as usual?
The disciples, on the lake, were caught in a storm. The strong wind pushed them off course, and the fierce waves prevented the ship from going forward. The disciples were tortured all night until dawn. Jesus knew, of course, that His disciples would be in danger during their journey. Why force them to travel by boat on such a night? Even later, when the disciples faced the storm, why did Jesus not help them during those many hours? Finally, Peter, when he saw Jesus walking on the lake, asked for the command to go to Him on those waters. After a few steps, Peter began to sink. Why did the Lord let Peter leave the boat and walk on the water, knowing he would sink?
Saint John Chrysostom and other Holy Fathers of our Church who have interpreted these verses in the Gospel explain it to us.
Our Lord Jesus Christ in the years of His public mission, had His disciples, the Twelve near Him, those “whom He also named Apostles” (Luke 6:13). He prepared them to continue His own work throughout the world. Their work would not be easy, and they would also encounter “storms” on their way. Jesus would not be physically beside them to confront the dangers they would face each time. They should be educated and learn how to act for themselves. But also to not forget that they would not achieve anything alone. As their Teacher would tell them at the Last Supper: “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). In their greatest difficulty, the disciples should look to Christ, Who would always be with them all the days of their life, according to His promise (see Matthew 28:20).
So, as the disciples endured much that night on the stormy lake and learned, we also learn with them:
-When the “ship” of our lives gets rocked and shaken, remember that our generous and all-powerful God, our Lord Jesus Christ is not ignoring us. It may seem that it is too late for His intervention, but like that night, He lets us do all we can. At the right moment, after we ask for His help, He will come to us and give us what we need. We should not be disappointed in any delay in God’s response. On the contrary, it should strengthen our faith and deepen our prayers. Jesus’ supporting voice to the terrified disciples as He approached them walking on the waves was this: “Be of good cheer! It is I; Do not be afraid” (verse 27). This call to courage should echo in our ears during hard times. It is the voice of our Almighty Lord and God!
-Never to withdraw our soul’s eyes from the face of Christ and towards the danger as Peter did: As he was looking to Jesus, he walked on the waves. “But when Peter saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid, and beginning to sink” (verse 30).
My brothers and sisters, we saw that “when Jesus got into the boat the wind ceased” (verse 32), and it all stopped. Let us move forward in our lives, looking on Christ, with the certainty that eventually in the greatest storms, He will come near us and calm the waves, strengthening us to travel safely to the “port” of our final destination.