Gospel of Matthew 22 -33
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
“Lord, save me...” As Christians, how many times have we called out this very phrase to the Lord? How many times have we found ourselves, after falling into a difficult situation, unsure of what to do next? As Catholics, who have the Eucharist, I must ask, ‘how have we lost sight of God so fast?’ How have we allowed ourselves to lose our focus on the Lord so quickly? Actually, it’s pretty easy. Like Peter, we lose ourselves and in our laziness, we allow ourselves to be distracted by all the counter- noise beckoning us towards the world.
Becoming overwhelmed in the chaos, we lower our heads as to buffet the storm, but by taking our eyes off God,we become easily distracted and we start to flounder. Instead, we should be raising our eyes… our hearts… toward God and the heavens, focusing on the Lord… then, with humility and trust, we should be relying completely on God as the True source of our courage and our strength.
But we are human. We are prone to sin. And unfortunately many of us think that we can make this trip on our own. We have been raised with the mindset of the world… and however slowly or quickly it happened... we have allowed ourselves to listen to this message and in certain regards, we have become part of the world. Acting on our arrogance, many of us think that we are doing what the Lord wants, that we are doing His Will. In reality, many of us have never even asked God what He wants.
Sure, we pray, but so often we don’t even take the time to listen as He answers us. Instead, we spend whatever time we devote to prayer, simply asking God questions, or better yet, asking God for things…Our prayer life has been reduced to a hurried repetition of sorts, and then we rush away… not even waiting for His response to us. We go about our way...still not even knowing what His Will for us is. We just assume that what we want is what He wants. Mistakenly, we think that because we have ‘good motives’ or noble intentions, that we are being ‘faithful Christians‘, that we have conformed our will to His. But again, so often this is not the case. For even though we profess to love the Lord, we ignore His Will and we rely too much on our own strengths… on our own guidance…our own judgements.
We forget our role as His children, and we start putting ourselves in His place…We name ourselves as the ‘Masters’ of our domain. It’s a game of anything goes… And in our arrogance we take our eyes from the One Who made us. The One Who loves us most. So much so, that He humbled Himself beyond recognition so that He could remain with us in the Eucharist, in Tabernacles throughout the world, Until the end of time... But finding ourselves caught in the embrace of the world, we neglect our duties towards Him… we forget to look for Him…to simply look at Him…to merely love Him... With that door closed, we stumble, and we fall…we slip just out of reach of His grace…and if not for His mercy…we’d slip away forever...
Somehow, even when we are doing some of what He wants, we get caught up in thinking that this good we have done is our own making. We allow our pride to take our gaze away from the Lord and we start seeking out the accolades from the world... then basking in our pride…we forget to give God the glory He deserves. And like Peter, who loved the Lord with an imperfect faith, we start to sink. The insincerity of our prayer has put distance between us and the outstretched hand of the Lord. “Oh You of little faith…why do you doubt?”
As Faithful Catholics…as Faithful followers of Christ… We must remember that there is nothing on this earth that we can do alone. We must rely entirely on God…for everything. A complete surrender of self. I know there are some people out there who think they can do it alone. Or think that they have been doing it on their own for all this time. But that is wrong. It is the voice of the evil one whispering in your ear that you are your own God… feeding poison to your pride...
Let’s look at the model that Jesus gives us. He suffered in the desert and was tempted by the devil. Remember? The devil tried to get Him to do His Own Will… the devil tried to convince Him to turn away from His Father. And even though Jesus was God and He could have done whatever He wanted… He knew what He had to do by uniting Himself… conforming Himself…to do His Father’s Will… however painful it was to be.
It won’t be smooth sailing for us either. But we need to remember that there is nothing we can do on our own. There is no good performed in the world that isn’t done by God. All good things come from the Lord… and if we start to think otherwise, we are creating even more distance between ourselves and the Heavenly Father. If we have begun to descend down that slippery slope, we need to re-examine our hearts… re-examine our conscience…we need to ask ourselves who is in control of our lives. Because if it is not God, then what we are doing isn’t good and not only are we wasting our time…we are wasting our worth. Seriously, think about it. More importantly, pray about it. Every time.
We must unite ourselves to Christ. We must be willing to be like Him and unite our Will to the Heavenly Father…especially when there is pain… when there is suffering. We need to stop looking at ourselves and turn our gaze back to the One Who made us. Let not Jesus, be a ghost of your imagination. Familiarize yourself with His tender touch. Gaze into His Heart… His Soul…It is a burning furnace of charity and mercy for us all. It is the wellspring of all that is good. All that is Holy. Allow yourself to be immersed in His love… in His beauty.
Finally, living in Faith allows God to work through us in a greater capacity as we make our way in the secular world. It allows us a firm foundation on which to build our hopes. Faith also gives us courage during those difficult times of battle … when we feel our very being threatened. It reminds us, that if we place our trust in God we will never walk alone. And just as He did with Peter, He will save us… He will calm the storms... He will rescue us from every adversity. Even if we keep falling during the many conflicts of our lives… We must stand strong …never allowing doubt to enter in … Because when it is all said and done and we are standing at the end of our line, we will find that by trusting God with our whole heart….those struggles we endured only served as an aid in deepening our Faith… and uniting us more closely to the very Lord Who made us.