In the first gospel proposed for this day, Matthew 14:22-36, we read the very easily recalled episode of the Apostles’ being out on the Sea of Galilee through the night, but buffeted by a violent storm. Jesus, who had let them go on, in order spend some time alone, comes out to them on the Sea of Galilee, apparently walking calmly toward them on the water.
Quite naturally, the Apostles are frightened, both by the force of the storm, and by the incongruence of a body walking across the waves toward them. Jesus calls out to them, reassures them, and calms them. Peter, however, leaps into the drama of the moment, and raises the ante of his belief, in spite of the calming of the rest of the Apostles’ anxiety.
Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water. Jesus obliges, Come.
That is all the cue that Peter needs, and he leaves the boat to join Jesus on the water. We all know what happens next. He begins to sink under the influence of the still raging storm, but Jesus brings him safely back to the boat, and questions him, …why did you doubt?
As though this humiliation of Peter (and the Apostles) were not enough, this passage of the Gospel concludes by recounting that many of the people from the surrounding territories, upon hearing that Jesus had come ashore, came in search of healing—and they were healed!
It is almost as if to suggest by contrast that a simple faith and a hopeful attitude are more effective in bringing us into God’s plan of blessing that the probing and questioning of the Apostles when coerced into fearing for their lives.
We are beginning the final phase of our national, electoral journey. While there are certainly storm clouds and winds buffeting our national soul, will we succumb to fears, ghosts and self-doubt? Or, will we see in the presence of Christ in our brothers and sisters the desired healing that God offers to those who believe in reaching out to touch the hem of his cloak; which can mean nothing other than believing that Jesus is in our midst and we choose to live in affirmation of that divine power which is shared with those who believe.
Fr. Arthur Carrillo, C.P. is the director of the Missions for Holy Cross Province. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.