Walk on Water

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reflections for Sunday 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) August 7, 2005
Reproduced with Permission

Why would anyone want to walk on water? I want to feel solid ground beneath my feet. No extreme sports for me. I am contented with watching people skydive, do motorcycle stunts, climb rocky walls, and drop from great heights with only a bungee chord to keep them alive. I can swim, but I make sure there is a boat around in case I suffer cramps. I do mountain biking, but of the moderate variety. I drive a car, but seldom do I exceed eighty kilometers in the speedometer. I take the plane, only when very necessary. I cross the street and I look right and left. I have visited some war zones, and I scan the surroundings for trees where I can take cover, just in case. I tend to be on the safe side. I guess when God distributed virtues, I caught an abundance of Prudence.

Peter was different. In the Gospel this Sunday, he tried walking on water. There must have been something of an adventurer with Peter. Or did some apostles dare him, “Peter can you do that?” Perhaps he just wanted to try something new, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you walking on the water” (Mt. 14:28). It is a natural human tendency. Watch children. If somebody climbs the fence, another one is bound to follow. I know of one confrere who nearly drowned at sea. He jumped in deep water because everybody in the boat did - he forgot he did not know how to swim. Some bottles of beer must have weakened his memory.

Whatever Peter’s motive, he did embark on a great adventure by leaving the safety of the boat and walking on the water. He must have been enjoying himself at the beginning ,”Hey look, I can do it.” Like a child who was enjoying his first solo bike ride, he was doing fine –until he remembered his father was far behind him and no longer holding the bike. Peter was doing fine, focusing on the Lord – until he focused on the strong wind and the turbulent waters. Then he lost heart. He panicked and he started to sink. He did not lose his senses completely. He had enough sense to turn his attention back to the Lord and shout, “Lord, save me!” (Mt. 14:30)

The lesson is clear. Focus on the Lord. Focus on His saving power. Focus on His strength. Once we lose focus, we lose heart.

When we are in troubled waters, what do we usually focus on? We see our weakness. We see our powerlessness. We could hardly move forward because we see our crippling environment and helpless situation. We see the darkness and we see the storm. Our focus is on our weak selves and our threatening surroundings, rather than on the Lord. How many people feel powerless looking at their addictions, at their poverty, at their being victims of people and circumstances?

At the core of the principles of Alcoholic Anonymous that enabled the movement to help so many people gain freedom from the grips of alcohol and drug addiction is the belief in the power of God. The 2nd and 3rd of the AA Twelve Steps profess this very explicitly:

2. (We) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 3. (We) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him,

There is a Higher Power we can turn to. That holds true for people who in their personal lives are in the clutches of many forms of addiction. That holds true for marginalized peoples and victimized societies. Power is within reach. The Power of Jesus and His Word has changed personal lives and started social revolutions. We are no longer victims of ourselves and the elements around us. All we need to do is reach out and put our hand in the hand of the Man who walks the water.

And then we will gain courage. We will not sink. We will walk on water.

Action starter: There is some area of our life that needs saving. Bring it to the Lord in prayer and say, “Save me Lord.”