Turbulent Waters

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Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 14:22-33

Then he made the disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”

Opening Prayer: Come Holy Spirit. Everything distracts me and I can feel tossed about by the waves of this world and all of its needs and concerns. Please still my heart in this moment so that I can hear you speak to me in this Gospel.

Encountering Christ:

  1. Jesus Calms the Water: Why do you suppose that Jesus walked on the sea? He did not have to go to his disciples at all; he could have spoken a word of peace from the shore and the sea would have obeyed. Or he could have simply appeared in the boat. Jesus chose to walk on the water to demonstrate his power over the turbulent sea: “Through the sea was your way; your path, through the mighty waters, though your footsteps were unseen” (Psalms 77:20). I can ask myself what parts of my life are turbulent and characterized by conflict and disorder. Where do I feel powerless and “tossed about by the waves”? I can call out to Jesus and ask him to come to me in his power and calm the violent waters that sometimes rage in my life.
  2. Focused on Christ: Peter’s faith was bold, but perhaps not fully developed. It was his idea to walk on the sea! He even succeeded while he focused on moving toward Jesus. However, when he looked away from Christ and, instead, at the situation around him, he became afraid. If we keep our eyes on Christ during the turbulent times in our lives, we will have no fear. For Jesus is love, and “there is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear…” (1 John 4:18).
  3. Lord, Save Me!: If we fall under the turbulent waters in our confusion or despair, we should call out to Christ to be our Savior as Peter did: “Lord, save me!” Psalm 69 reads: “Save me, God, for the waters have reached my neck” (Psalms 69:2). Instead, we can trust that Jesus is there with us in the midst of our trials and sufferings. Jesus is peace! When we are going through turbulent waters, we can ask Jesus to be with us and keep our hearts and minds calm amid the distress around us: “Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). 

Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, how often have I been tossed about by the winds of life. How often have the waves of fear and uncertainty sent me crashing down. Please give me the grace to keep my eyes focused on you in these times. Help me to remember that you are the true source of my peace.

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray about which storm in my life needs Jesus’s calming and powerful presence.

For Further Reflection: Listen to this interview on interior peace with Fr. Jacques Philippe, spiritual director, retreat master, and author. 

Written by Carey Boyzuck.

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