Imagine the scene. You are one of the disciples whom Jesus has sent out to sea on a boat. While out there, a storm kicks up and rocks the boat. It is dark. In the distance, you see what looks like the silhouette of a person walking toward you. As the person nears the boat, you realize it is Jesus! And He is walking on top of the water! “Take courage,” He says, “it is I!” Peter, overwhelmed with emotion at this scene, asks the Lord to allow him to walk on the water, which Jesus allows. Peter, of course, becomes frightened. Jesus asks, “Why did you doubt?” Falling in, he calls out to Jesus, who saves him.
The story for this weekend’s Gospel as recounted above is the classic journey of faith. That journey often involves three steps: loving Jesus, faltering due to human imperfection, and calling out to the Lord. So, (1) Peter obviously loved Jesus, then (2) he doubted and then faltered, but then did the greatest thing of all. When he realized he faltered, he yelled out, (3) “Lord, save me!” Isn’t that what faith is all about? Peter’s call to Jesus is the call each of us should make when we realize we cannot go it alone.
First, it is clear that Peter loved Jesus. Peter left behind his fishing boat and career and followed Jesus unreservedly. Jesus was an itinerant preacher whose acceptance in society and among religious authorities was questioned. It is evident that Peter was over-whelmed with grace in His presence and was inspired to follow Him. Peter was filled with passion, zeal, and love for the Lord.
The modern Christian is called to love the Lord in the same way. Our faith is to be passionate! Following the Lord is the first priority of one’s life. While we might not be called to leave it all behind as Peter did, we are called to love the Lord with the same passion and zeal, each in our own individual vocation, calling, and context.
While Peter’s love was almost palpable, he also stumbled, both in this particular story and in others throughout the Gospels. He had a tendency to blurt out the wrong thing at the wrong time, denied he ever knew Jesus, and, at times, faltered in his belief, as found here. Like us, Peter is human to the core. Even with his faults, Jesus appointed him the Rock, and it is clear from the Acts of Apostles that Peter led the early Church. With all of his human foibles, Jesus saw something special in Peter. He knew his gifts and what he could accomplish. In Peter, the rest of us can take solace. Jesus loved Peter and called him to do great things; He loves you and me in our humanity and calls us in the same way. That’s how much He loves us!
Finally, Peter gives the Church a great example of what to do when he faltered: he yells out, “Lord, save me!” Those might be the three words each of us should make our personal motto. Peter’s overall love for the Lord helps him understand that only Jesus could save him. His faith in Jesus ran deep, and in the depths of his heart and soul he knew Jesus would save him. Indeed, He did save him and help him.
In the journey of faith, do we know that Jesus will save us? This implies that the person has a deep love for Christ that will show itself in faith. Jesus will save us. There is nothing to fear. The modern person has such a hard time understanding and believing in the power of God. Why does that happen? In many ways, Peter’s faith is childlike. And childlike faith is the faith Jesus wants in each of us. We allow the need for control and pride to creep into our faith, making it much more complicated than need be. Faith is simple. Love Jesus and know He will save you. Peter had that kind of faith, that is clear. You and I are called to that same level of faith.