The story of Christ walking on water and Peter almost having the faith to reach him ( Mt 14:22-33) was recently heard at mass, yet with no pun intended, one may rightly ask if we can go a bit deeper in the message of this account. Surely, most will agree that trusting the Lord to guide us through trouble is one of the lessons to be learned. Certainly, many will add that true faith defeats fear and supports us to take chances. Lastly, many will argue that Peter again reminds us of how easily we can embody polar opposites of faith from saying “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” ( Mt 16:16) to denying Our Lord altogether (Mk 14:66-72) or representing the distortions of Satan ( Mt 16:23).
Peter is clearly as flawed as we all are, yet he has a knack for being right in the middle of the most powerful lessons taught by Christ. Maybe, Peter’s great flaws provides just the environment for those powerful lessons.
Keep Your Eyes on Christ
We should note that Peter did not sink as long as he kept his eyes on his Master. As soon as he allowed himself to be distracted by all of the less important noise around him, he sank. How often do we seek Christ only to take our eyes off His message and guidance? Are we really selflessly and obediently seeking Our Lord or are we merely expecting him to be around while we do our own thing so we can blame him when things go wrong?
When You Fall ( and you will) Reach Out to Christ
Christ Walked on Water so You Do Not Have To
Notice that, in the story above, both Christ and Peter walked on water. However, Peter walked because Christ did so and challenged him to do the same. If Peter had seen Christ sitting on a boat asking him to walk over, Peter would have never tried in the first place. Seeing Christ do precisely what he was asking Peter to do gave Peter courage and greater faith. The bottom line is that we should let Our Lord do the heavy lifting and merely follow as best we can out of a sincere and deep desire to love and obey him. Whenever we pretend to be doing the heavy lifting, we tend to forget how much we need Christ and owe to God Almighty. Humility is the cornerstone of sanctity and, as candidates for sainthood, we each need to cultivate humility regularly.
Anything worth doing is only so if it brings us closer to God. Anything that distances us from God is worthless or even harmful. Thus, since God is all that ultimately matters, we would be wise to leave all to God. Knowing that God loves us and is all good, we can never go wrong leaving all to God.
The story of Peter walking, then falling, and finally reaching out to Christ out in that lake is a microcosm of our journey to salvation. Faced with the storms of this world, we must heed Our Lord’s offer to help. As imperfect beings, we will falter. As faithful servants, we must reach out to Christ because he alone is the path to our inheritance. The keys are keeping our eyes on the Lord, and reaching out to him when (not if) we fall.