1 Kings 19:9a,11-13a
The Lord appears to Elijah in a whisper.
The Lord is the source of salvation.
Paul speaks of the blessings that have come to the Israelites.
Jesus walks on water, and the disciples acknowledge him as the Son of God.
Gospel: M 14: 22-33
After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter said to him in reply,
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
“Truly, you are the Son of God.”
Today’s Gospel directly follows last week’s account of Jesus feeding a crowd. For the sake of the crowds, Jesus had postponed his time of solitude. Now, at last, Jesus finds some time for quiet and prayer. He sends his disciples ahead of him by boat, dismisses the crowds, and then withdraws to the mountain to pray.
The disciples do not fare well. They struggle to weather the wind and waves, making little progress in their journey. This time, however, Jesus does not calm the seas, and the disciples do not express fear until they see Jesus walking toward them on the water. In this story it is not the storm that is feared but the sight of Jesus before them, whom they mistake for a ghost.
Clues like these suggest that this story is about the disciples’ growing understanding of the identity of Jesus. Today’s Gospel is also about what the disciples’ faith in Jesus will enable them to do.
Jesus calls to the disciples and calms their fears. He is not a ghost. The impulsive Peter seeks proof that the person is indeed Jesus. He asks Jesus to call him out onto the water, and Jesus grants this request. Peter’s fear and doubt overtake him, however, once he is walking on the water. Jesus reaches out to Peter and saves him. When Jesus and Peter enter the boat, Matthew reports that the wind ceases, and the disciples confess that Jesus is the Son of God.
Faith in Jesus will enable the disciples to do the work that Jesus has done. Peter walks on water. The five loaves and two fish feed a multitude of people. The disciples can and will participate in the work of the kingdom of heaven. When Peter fears and doubts the person of Jesus, however, he falters. Peter’s example teaches us that true Christian ministry emerges from the faith that Jesus is the Messiah, God’s only Son.