August 13, 2023
Because the Solemnity of the Transfiguration (August 6) fell on a Sunday, it takes precedence over the regular Sunday readings which means we missed hearing one of the most important stories in the Gospel: Feeding the Five Thousand. If you wonder why this miracle story is so important, it is the only miracle recounted almost exactly in all four Gospels! People who are blind or deaf or lepers are healed in all four Gospels, but they are different people. Only this miracle, the Last Supper and the Passion are found in all four Gospels, but they also have many differences. The feeding of the five thousand is so important that all the evangelists tell the story in the same way.
The story of Jesus walking on water is found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and John. However, only Matthew highlights Peter getting out of the boat, so let’s find out why. Remember, Peter is not only chief among the apostles; he also symbolizes every follower of Christ. Whenever Matthew shows us Peter doing something special, we are meant to pay attention.
The main points of this story in all three versions are the size of the storm, the fear of the apostles and Jesus’ power over the seas. Matthew adds three more points revolving around St. Peter: “Lord, call me”, “Lord, save me” and “Why did you doubt?” While all the apostles recognize Jesus, only Peter wants the Lord to call him to walk on water. Many Christians recognize Jesus in the Scriptures, in the Eucharist or present among us, but few actually offer themselves to Jesus. Peter offers himself to be used even when he is afraid. Is our relationship with God only seeking His help or do we offer our lives for God to use? Our most fervent prayer is probably: “Lord, save me!” When we are sinking, it is then we pray loudest! What Peter doesn’t do is try to swim. Why wouldn’t a fisherman know how to swim? We should turn first to God, not to ourselves for help. The final phrase is not so much a rebuke as it is a reminder. Remember when the disciples asked to grow in faith? Our faith is always too little when we look at the world before us, but that doesn’t mean we have to doubt. God is always present. God is always ready to reach out his arm to us.
In the Lord’s joy,
Fr. Hernan Cuevas