My dear friends in our Lord: Glory to Jesus Christ!
In today’s Gospel we pick up precisely where we left last week, with our Lord having just miraculously fed the multitude with the loaves and the fishes:
[Then] Jesus obliged His disciples to go up into the boat, and to go before Him over the water, till He dismissed the people. And having dismissed the multitude, He went into a mountain alone to pray. And when it was evening, He was there alone.
First, the Lord taught and fed the multitude, and then He went to pray. It is only right that after, as well as before attending to the works of faith that one lifts hands in prayer and thanksgiving.
The Lord went up into a mountain alone to pray. And He did so not as one who was Himself in need of anything, for in every moment our Lord is Himself God, but rather He went alone to pray for us as the great and righteous High Priest. He offered prayers for us and for all the world.
The Lord remains in prayer until evening, as an example to us that we should not attend to prayer hastily and carelessly, but display patience and perseverance.
But the boat in the midst of the sea was tossed with the waves: for the wind was contrary.
The disciples are again storm-tossed on the sea, as they have been before. Previously they experienced such a situation while the Lord was sleeping near them in the ship, but now they are alone. They are without the physical presence of the Lord. And this so that they may learn to bear such trials with fortitude and patience.
And in the fourth watch of the night, [the Lord] came to them walking upon the sea. And they seeing Him walk upon the sea, were troubled, saying: It is an apparition. And they cried out for fear. And immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying: Be of good heart: it is I, fear ye not.
The disciples did not immediately recognize the Lord, both because of the manner of His arrival – they weren’t expecting to see anyone walking on the stormy water – as well as the fact that it was the middle of the night, and they could not see clearly for the darkness.
Therefore our Lord revealed Himself by His voice, calling out to them, dispelling their fear, causing them to take heart.
And Peter making answer, said: Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come to Thee upon the waters. And He said: Come. And Peter going down out of the boat, walked upon the water to come to Jesus. But seeing the wind strong, he was afraid: and when he began to sink, he cried out, saying: Lord, save me.
Peter, who had actually been walking on the water, now fails because he becomes afraid of the wind. Such is human nature. Often even having accomplished great deeds, it becomes is rattled and shaken by little things.
But note: as long as Peter looked to Christ, the sea held him up. But when he turned his eyes to the wind, it was then that he began to sink.
And immediately Jesus stretching forth His hand took hold of him, and said to him: O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt?
The Lord did not command the winds to cease and the seas to be calm. The Lord did not rebuke the sea, He did not rebuke the wind, but He admonished Peter for his lack of faith. For if Peter’s faith had not faltered, he would have easily withstood the sea and the wind; he would have had no fear at all.
When our Lord had taken hold of Peter’s hand, lifted him up and set him upon the water, He still let the wind blow, to show that it was not the wind that did Peter harm; his lack of faith is what caused him to sink. Only when our Lord then entered the boat did the winds cease, as the Gospel tells us.
And they that were in the boat came and adored Him, saying: Indeed Thou art the Son of God. And having passed the water, they came into the country of Genesar.
Not only Peter was freed from fear, but also all that were in the ship were released from their own turmoil and fear. The wind ceased, it says, and they recognized our Lord. Seeing once again the winds subject to Him, and Him walking on the water, they confessed His Divinity and worshipped Him as God.
As we cross the sea of this life, darkened in our minds, spiritually sinking, let us not cease in our prayers and petitions to Christ our God to deliver us from all storms of body, mind, or heart. Let us not sink by lack of faith; even if difficulties extend into the very darkest hours of our life. Rather let us hope and trust in the merciful Lord, Who loves mankind. For He will make a way, walking even across the wind-tossed sea of this life. There, even in the darkness and the storm, we will recognize Him. There we will hear Him calling out and saying to us: Be of good heart; it is I; fear ye not.