In the midst of a storm, do I focus on the strength of the storm, or do I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus? Which focus gets better results?
In our Gospel today, the disciples, on their way to meet Jesus, are caught in a violent storm on the sea. We too experience many storms in life, those we find ourselves in and those we get ourselves into. Storms are frightening and we feel out of control. We can feel forces swirling around us, coming at us from every direction. Where do we turn for help?
In the midst of the storm Jesus appears and says, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Even after hearing these words, Peter says, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” Peter tests Jesus, instead of saying Lord I trust in You, I won’t be afraid…Peter says prove it to me. Our loving Lord’s response, “Come”. Amid life’s storms, big or small, Jesus is there patiently asking us not to let fear take over, instead to place all our trust in Him.
When Peter steps out of the boat, he walks on the water toward Jesus. Awesome! Then, Peter becomes focused on the storm. When he saw "how strong the wind was he became frightened," he took his eyes off Jesus, and he sank. Can you feel the water covering your body as you sink beneath the waves? We understand Peter’s distraction and fear. Too often, we take our eyes off Jesus, giving in to fear or worse, thinking we have the power to overcome the storm on our own.
Fortunately, Peter cries, "Jesus, save me!" Jesus immediately reaches out His hand and saves Peter. We cannot comprehend the compassionate, merciful love Jesus has for us. He never hesitates to come to our aid. He never tires of our doubt or fear. He loves us unconditionally at every moment of our life.
So how can I keep my gaze on Jesus and not on the storms that rage around me? A close, personal friendship and ongoing dialogue throughout the day with Jesus, keeps me tethered to Him. How do I begin my day? In silent prayer, seeking God’s purpose and plan for my day? Do I receive God’s grace; His free, undeserved supernatural gifts that lead me to eternal salvation? I receive God's grace through the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, the Mass, prayer, the Rosary, and love and service to others. Do I TRUST Jesus? Do I believe that He is the author of my beautiful life’s story? Throughout the day I can pray, “Jesus, I trust in You. Please increase my trust in and my love of You.”
Life is much easier, more fulfilling, more joy filled when our eyes are fixed on Jesus. It simply takes practice, commitment, and desire. And there are plenty of little storms in my life each day to practice on. When I experience Jesus’ presence and His power, my desire grows. Jesus wants me to walk on water through each and every storm in this fallen world.
"Lord, help me to not take my eyes off You when challenges arise. The care You are asking me to give in many situations is great and can frighten and overwhelm me. Let me put my trust in You and keep my eyes on Your love and Your strength, no matter what I have to face. Amen."