As Peter receives the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, we know that we have hope for our hearts; for although the netherworld will not prevail in this spiritual battle, it will seek to keep us from Christ, who offers strength for our souls.
This Gospel story (Matthew 14:22-33) follows immediately after the reading from last week. Here’s a quick recap:
* Jesus hears of the death of John the Baptist * Jesus seeks solitude in a deserted place * The crowds find Jesus; he ministers to them * Jesus feeds the hungry with fishes & bread
After the people have eaten, the Lord makes the disciples get into a boat while he dismisses the crowd. The following events occur: 1. The disciples are in the boat on the water 2. Jesus goes up the mountain to pray alone 3. The wind and the waves are getting strong 4. Late at night Jesus comes on the water 5. Seeing Jesus, the disciples are terrified 6. Jesus, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” 7. Peter to Jesus “Command me to come to you.” 8. Peter goes to Jesus, is frightened and sinks 9. Jesus rescues Peter “Why did you doubt?” 10. The disciples: “Truly you are the Son of God!”
Note that Matthew’s Gospel differs from Mark’s account (6:45-52) in three ways: 1. The dialogue between Jesus and Peter 2. Peter walking (sort of) on the water 3. Confession of faith – Jesus the Son of God
The story speaks of Peter’s desire to follow Jesus, even as it clearly shows his human weakness. Peter tries, fails, and calls upon Jesus to save him in his need. As a result, the disciples recognize the Son of God in their midst.
The early Church took this passage to heart. Like the boat tossed on the waters, early Christians knew all too well the dangers of faith – risking their lives to follow Jesus. Like Peter, they had their moments of weakness; like Peter, they called upon the Lord in their need.
We can see ourselves in this situation as well. There are times when we desperately want a strong and steadfast faith; we seek the Lord and desire to follow His path for our lives. Yet we are also aware of our limitations, failures, and fears. May we, like Peter, call upon Jesus in our need; may we trust in the Lord’s strength and love to save us.
As we finish our Easter readings from the Acts of the Apostles, we see how both Peter and Paul commit their lives to the Lord. As a chapter of their lives comes to an end, they point us to the beginning of our final destination: eternal life!