(1Kgs.19:9,11-13, Ps.85, Rom.9:1-5 & Matt.14:22-33)
The gospel passage of today presents us with the miracle of Jesus walking on the water in the fourth watch of the night towards His Disciples who were in the boat amidst the violence of the sea waves. The catchy line in that passage is; “Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.” This was Jesus’ encouraging words to His frightened Disciples, as Jesus finishes with His early morning prayer on the mountain and now walks on the sea to meet His Disciples who were struggling with their boat amidst the strong tempest and waves as they cross to the other side.
As Jesus walked on the water towards them, they were terrified, taking Him to be a ghost and they cried out in fear.
Wow! one wonders why the Disciples would only but thought of Jesus being a ghost in this scenario. The reason is not far fetched. The Jewish theology of the sea has it that, the sea is the predominant abode of Lucifer and his evil angels and marine spirits. The sea being their abode, they are taken to be behind every turbulent mishaps and malign waves in the ocean. Therefore, for Jesus’ Disciples it cannot but be this malicious spirit that now walks on the water, approaching to destroy them at this ungodly time of the night.
Just like these Disciples, we all get frightened at a sudden sense of the presence of the ‘evil spirits’ around us with their threats. Obviously, Lucifer and his evil angels are very malicious and would only aim to inflict evil onto the children of God, especially when one is not cooperating with their evil intents and wicked plans. However, the good news remains that, in Jesus, ALL evil powers and forces of the underworld bow, because in Jesus is the fullness of ALL powers, and Jesus comes into this world to undo the works of the devil.
Therefore, to show that ALL powers and forces of the underworld are under His control, Jesus decides to walk on the water (the abode of Lucifer and his evil forces) as a demonstration of His supremacy over ALL demonic forces and water spirits. The devil don’t have the last word, rather the first and last word lies in the Lord who walks on the water in supremacy. Therefore, when you focus and anchor your faith strongly onto Jesus to whom ALL powers belong, you are ever protected from the domination and control of all negative and evil forces.
Our life journey here on earth as Christians, is like rowing amidst the sea waves. The world is like a turbulent sea with all its ‘challenging waves’. But Jesus never abandons us in the midst of all the turbulence and challenges. That is why when Jesus perceived that His Disciples were in trouble in the turbulent sea He walked on to them on the sea to calm the storms and their fears.
The waves represent the negative forces around us, pulling us to incline to evil intent and activities. However, in the midst of all that, the voice of Jesus in whom we are all grafted as Christians, still remains, “Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.” By this Jesus encourages us not to be frightened or give in to despair amidst our turbulence.
Because, Jesus’ presence and power is bigger than the turbulence and our fears, provided we do recognize His ever abiding presence around us. Jesus demonstrates the reality of His protective presence and power as He calls Peter out of the boat to walk towards Him on the water as well. Peter did get out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus safely but the moment he starts to entertain fears of the forces and turbulence around him, Peter began to sink.
In our own life journey, in as much as our faith and focus is firmly on Jesus who holds ALL powers and forces in check, there will be peace and tranquility in our lives amidst all ‘turbulence and challenges’. But the moment we take to fright and think that we are all alone in our journey, we feel the intense of the turbulence and we will start to sink deep like Peter. Nevertheless, our compassionate Jesus would not abandon us should our faith fail us in our journey. He always reaches out to raise us up as he did to Peter, the moment we are able to call onto him “Lord, save me” whenever our faith is failing us.
In sum, the Lord’s word to us today remains, ‘COURAGE! IT IS I! DO NOT BE AFRAID’. The Lord is therefore, telling you to be ever aware of His abiding presence in your life journey and as well that, you maintain strongly your grip and focus onto Him irrespective of the intensity of the ‘turbulent waves’ around. When you firmly maintain your grip and focus onto the Lord, giving Him the first place in your life and allowing His principles and values to determine your daily life decisions and choices, the Lord’s ever protective presence will be your stronghold and support. There is nothing that life can throw at us which we cannot overcome with our firm faith and trust in the Lord who assures us today, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’Fr. Dom loves and prays for you and your family. PLEASE STAY SAFE!