Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he would send the crowds away. After sending the crowds away he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, while the boat, by now far out on the lake, was battling with a heavy sea, for there was a head-wind. In the fourth watch of the night he went towards them, walking on the lake, and when the disciples saw him walking on the lake they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost’ they said, and cried out in fear.
But at once Jesus called out to them, saying, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ It was Peter who answered. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water.’ ‘Come’ said Jesus. Then Peter got out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus across the water, but as soon as he felt the force of the wind, he took fright and began to sink. ‘Lord! Save me!’ he cried. Jesus put out his hand at once and held him. ‘Man of little faith,’ he said ‘why did you doubt?’
And as they got into the boat the wind dropped. The men in the boat bowed down before him and said, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’
Gospel for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time
One more it is Peter who is the fall guy in the story – and this time, one with a sinking feeling. It is Peter who comes forward strong in faith and then finds himself overcome by fear and doubt.
It is comforting to think that it might well have been Peter that told the story against himself, and in honour of the Lord who came here, as always, to his aid.
Inevitably for one reason or another we stumble and fail, and do it again and again. How helpful that the scriptures are full of stories and teachings that our shortcomings are never allowed to be the end of the story for us or for others.
- What fear or failing might you bring to the Lord, even for this first time, for his counsel and consolation?
Cathedral of Spilled Blood, St Petersburg. (c) Allen Morris, 2015.