“Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘O man of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 14:31)
One way we resemble God is our ability to feel the pains of others. This is called compassion. It is, for instance, the pain a mother feels when her baby is about to be given an injection or the pain we feel watching a friend beaten for our sake. To be compassionate is to transcend oneself; to go beyond the level of that tiny world of “me, myself, and I.” In today’s Gospel passage, we see different dimensions of the compassionate heart of God in the person of Jesus.
First, Jesus was alone praying on the mountain and from there he could see that the disciples were in danger as their boat was beaten by the waves. He could have left them on their own, but out of compassion, he came to them walking on water to alleviate their PHYSICAL plight.
Second, Jesus knew that the reason they were scared was their SPIRITUAL immaturity. This was clearly represented in Peter’s inability to walk confidently on water and once again he showed compassion by helping Peter get to his feet when he was about to drown in the water.
Third, upon reaching the land of Gennesaret, Jesus again showed the depth of his compassion for the SICK who were brought to them by reaching out to heal them. Even those who touched the fringe of his garment received healing.
When faced with life’s tough challenges, let us keep reminding ourselves of these words of Jesus: “Take heart, it is I, have no fear.” Picture Jesus walking on water towards you. Jesus cares for you and he will never abandon or forsake you.
A lot of Christians today, like Peter, are living in fear even when Jesus is so close to them. We never miss any activity in the Church, we spend hours every day praying, sometimes, even whole nights, we fast and do a series of novenas but we somehow expect the worst to happen. We are obviously more conscious of the devil than the existence of God who is a Father and a Shepherd. (Read Psalm 23). We are so afraid of the forces of darkness that we completely forget we have guardian angels sent by God always with us protecting us.
When our dreams are good and pleasant, we quickly forget them but when our dreams contain scary images or events, we interpret them as messages from God and we soon find ourselves running from one prayer warrior to another. Listen to Jesus again: “Take Heart, it is I. Have no fear.” It takes deep trust to believe the contents of your dreams, if terrible, would not happen and that whatever you think God is trying to show you, He has already conquered it on your behalf.
Going from one prayer house to another and telling everyone your dream is risky because you stand the chance of being duped by someone who capitalizes on your fear. If truly God is the one revealing things to you in the dream, be sure that God will also be kind enough to tell you exactly what you should do. God spoke to Joseph in his dreams and in very clear terms, told Joseph to take the child Jesus with his mother and run to Egypt.
There is now a common trick among some Christians wherein three or four people would call you to claim that they saw certain things in their dreams about you warning you to be very careful and you are immediately thrown into panic. You begin to wonder: “Why are so many persons warning me? What should I do?” My typical response is always: “Repent from sin, break any pact you have with the devil and begin to expect the best for yourself.”
This is the message of all the prophets in the Bible from Jeremiah in today’s first reading up to Jesus. If all this while you ignored this call to repentance and lived as if God doesn’t exist, why do you panic now? Hear me, death is inevitable. We all must die. This is not a curse. If you wake up each day, live as if that is your last. If your conscience is clear, you have no reason whatsoever to be living in fear. If it is not your time, nothing, nothing in heaven or on earth can kill you. You will walk on water and you will not sink. You will pass through fire and it will be cold. Your enemies will set different traps for you and you will scale through like breeze. Fear Not.
Let us pray: Almighty ever-living God, open my heart to trust you deeper and deeper every day. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bible Study: Jer. 30:1-2,12-15,18-22, Ps. 102:16-21,29,22-23, Matthew 14:22-36).
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu