Walking on Water

John 6:16-21
Acts 6:1-7 / Ps 33

It is I; don’t be afraid.
(John 6:20)

When trials bring us to the brink,
And we begin to think life’s unfair,
Or who would care that we will sink?
Take heart, Christ assures us He’ll be there.

When evening came, His disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But He said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. (John 6:16-21)

Reflection

In his Gospel account, St. John does not provide any explanation why Jesus sent off the apostles at a late hour across the sea, and without Him going along. In his own version, St. Matthew relates that Jesus made them precede Him to the other side so that He could dismiss the crowds and go up to a mountain to pray (Mt.14:22-23). But in all likelihood, it was all part of His plan to walk on the raging waters of the sea after His disciples and demonstrate His power over nature. Or perhaps, faithful as He was to Scriptures, Jesus was simply fulfilling the words of Psalm 107, which reads: They saw the works of the LORD, His wonderful deeds in the deep. For He spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves. They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away. They reeled and staggered like drunkards; they were at their wits’ end. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and He guided them to their desired haven. (Psa 107:24-30)

It was not the intention of Jesus to terrify His disciples when He walked towards them and they thought He was some kind of an apparition. He had to assure them that it was Him and not a ghost, so that they were only too glad to take Him on board. Step by step, Jesus was forming the faith of His apostles, training them to be brave when He was not with them, and increasing their faith in Him when He came to them. Seeing Him walking on the water, some of them could have recalled a passage from the Scriptures, which reads, “He alone stretches out the heavens, and treads upon the crests of the sea” (Job 9:8), and realized that He was really God. In fact, in the Gospel of Matthew, it reads, “Those who were in the boat did Him homage, saying ‘Truly, you are the Son of God’” (Mt.14:33).

Today’s Gospel reminds us that whatever storms in life may come our way, we have nothing to fear, because our Lord will surely come to assure us that we will not sink. He may allow us for a time to struggle with an ordeal to make us strong, or to make us realize how weak we really are without His help. But when we have reached the end of our rope, or nothing seems to work, we can always rely on His help. Jesus is not just an illusion or some figment of the imagination. He is real, and just waiting for us to call out to Him for help.

Let me walk with You, Lord. Teach me not to fear. Though in my faith I’m still a child, I believe that Your Spirit will grow in me, and I will soon walk in Your ways. Walk with me always that I may learn to be brave and faithful. Amen.

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