Today’s Gospel reading is one of my favorites. Truthfully, though, it always makes me a little uncomfortable. Which is what it’s supposed to do. This Gospel wants us to get out of the boat, too.
We can tend to give Saint Peter a lot of grief over this incident. If he was able to walk on the water for a few steps, why couldn’t he finish the journey? What we see happen here is that while he has his eyes on Jesus, he can accomplish what seems impossible: he walks on water. But when he gets distracted by the storm and the wind and the waves, he begins to sink into the water.
Our spiritual journeys are a lot like that, I think. It takes courage to get out of the boat, but the boat is where Jesus is. We won’t get to him unless we make that leap of faith and step out of the comfort of our boats – whatever those boats may be. And we do fine while we have our eyes on Jesus, but the minute we get distracted by the storms raging all around us, we begin to sink into the ocean of despair that surrounds us.
When that happens, we can be depressed about our progress. We can be very hard on ourselves for falling yet again. But we have to understand that Peter, and we, are not the biggest losers in this whole incident. There were eleven guys who never had the courage or the faith to get out of the boat in the first place. And so, like Peter, we can reach up to our Lord and let him pull us out of the swirling waters once again.
For those of us who take the leap of faith with Peter today, we may be of “little faith,” we may even doubt sometimes, but our faith in Jesus will always keep us safe.