They just finished dinner. Keep that in mind. This Gospel picks up (somewhat randomly for the way the lectionary normally functions) right where we left off in yesterday (Sunday’s) Gospel reading. It’s like those Television flashbacks: On our last episode of Jesus and the boys – – they had just experienced thousands of people being fed with 5 loaves and 2 fish and having more then when they had started (12 baskets of left overs). Here it is, a few hours later? Jesus (finally) is able to get that alone time to pray that he had set out for at the start of yesterday’s Gospel. He tells the guys to set out on the boat themselves… and as they do, a windstorm picks up.
Jesus walks on the water to them. And as He does, the reaction, the response – they fall back into very human thoughts and logic and reason which sees a phenomenon outside of the natural order of things and says “this must be a ghost.”
Interesting isn’t it, their first impulse isn’t towards faith but fear? The miracle of the loaves and fishes – the miracle of Jesus curing the sick people all day had already faded from memory. Maybe that’s why faith isn’t about miracles.
Miracles are great… and we all have our lists of desired ones that aren’t selfish, self-centered like “Lord let me win the powerball and I promise I’ll give a majority of it to charity.” But seriously, we often have prayers for things where the only way we can imagine things to be made whole, or right, the only way we can imagine getting through a situation or challenge or obstacle involves a miracle…. yet they don’t always come or come in the way we expected them. Even when a miracle does come, they’re only as impactful as we’re willing to let them be. Peter is able to walk on water himself and yet, that’s not enough to perfect his faith.
Which in some ways is comforting. Because faith is bigger than miracles. Faith sees my relationship with Jesus as central. My Faith in Him says I might not know the way, I might not see the plan, I might think the only way that this can work out is if there’s a miracle in a specific way… I might think that, but I know I can trust you whether that happens or not… I follow you Jesus because I love you and I know you love me… And so ,
Faith is getting in the boat
Faith is not despairing when it gets windy
Faith is eventually recognizing Christ’s presence (instead of mistaking him for a ghost… or thinking he’s absent)
Faith is keeping focused on Christ as all kinds of things get blown in our direction that all have the capacity to distract, discourage, and depress our belief.
Faith accepts the miracle of the moment, and rejoices at how God does want to delight and surprise us rather than suspecting that at any moment now the other shoe is going to fall.
Faith is recognizing that things can – and will- get crazy all around us, but that peace comes when we remember Jesus has already gotten in our boats… and promised to never leave them.