A great means to preserve continual peace and tranquility of soul is to receive everything from the hands of God, both great and small, and in whatever way it comes. --St. Dorotheus
Gospel Text: (MT 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.”
We all experience chaos in our lives, sometimes multiple times in a single day! The perpetual cloud of depression, the tsunami of pain and suffering accompanied by a chronic illness, the throws of our own addiction or that of a loved one, or the tidal wave of violence that crashes down upon the shores of far too many. Consider when you have felt like you were being tossed about…like everything (and perhaps everyone) was against you…
In these times, it is customary for us to cling to the sides of our rickety boats--those coping mechanisms or fears that trick us with their false sense of security. It might be that extra cocktail or glass of wine each night, the food that we don’t need or want to eat but do, the third hour of television we choose to watch instead of interacting with a loved one face-to-face, or the online shopping we use to escape from enjoying what we already have.
The sick irony in this for all of us is that just when we think our “boats” are bringing calm, we come to see that they only intensify the storms. It is in these times that we best follow in St. Peter’s watery footprints outside the boat and, if necessary, cry out, “Lord, save me!”
Jesus is always appearing to us in the chaos and offering calm, whether we see him there or not.