Be not afraid

Be not afraid…

In our gospel today, Peter did well at the start of his improbable experience of walking on water.  At the start, he was focused on Jesus, his eyes fixed on him as he stepped toward him.  It was only when he became distracted and began to focus on his own efforts rather than on Jesus did he start to falter.   In our lives, we can be like Peter and the disciples who can be so overwhelmed at times by fear or grief or doubt that we fail to recognize the presence of Jesus in the very midst of our personal storms.   We can be so wrapped up in our own struggling efforts to deal with our problems and challenges that we tend to forget to trust in the One who alone can rescue or lose focus on the person of Christ who is our Lord and Savior.   Many times, we fail to recognize Jesus in the events or places where we least expect to find him.   We sometimes fail to recognize Jesus, refusing to believe the evidence of our own senses, in the midst of our critical times and experiences.

It is interesting to note that this event of walking on water is narrated after Jesus spent some time in the mountain by himself to pray.   Today’s gospel states: “Immediately after feeding the crowd with the five loaves and two fish, Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.  After he dismissed the crowds, he went the mountain by himself to pray…”

His life and his ministry is powered by his continuing dialogue with God the Father.   The power of prayer is the principle of his powerful words and his powerful works.  As Christians, we have to acknowledge the role of regular prayer in our lives.  As Christians, we have to maintain that sense of focus on the person of Christ, if we expect not to falter in the midst of our personal storms.  Prayer makes us strong, courageous and confident in God’s presence in our lives.

In a book  entitled Man the Unknown, Nobel prize winner Dr Alexis Carrell writes about prayer:  “Prayer is the most powerful form of energy we can generate… The influence of prayer on the human mind and body is as demonstrable as secreting glands… Only in prayer do we achieve that complete and harmonious assembly of body, mind and spirit which gives the frail human reed its unshakable strength.”

Let us end with a prayer that reminds us of our constant failure to experience the presence of God not only in the challenging moments of life but especially in the magnificent beauty of the things around us, which is particularly recognizable in the days of summer: “Lord of wind and rain, how are we to recognize you?  We long to see your face, to hear your voice and to unveil the mystery that is your magnificence.  Yet our human limits hold us back from fully recognizing you in the sunset and sunrise, the cycles of nature, the beauty of a flower, and the sounds of wind and water.  Open us, free us, cleanse us that we might come to know and understand a little more of all that you can be in our lives. Amen.”