After the five thousand had eaten and were
satisfied, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat
and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida,
while he dismissed the crowd. And when he had taken
leave of them, he went off to the mountain
to pray. When it was evening, the boat was far
out on the sea and he was alone on
shore. Then he saw that they were tossed about
while rowing, for the wind was against them. About the
fourth watch of the night, he came toward them
walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them.
But when they saw him walking on the sea,
they thought it was a ghost and cried out.
They had all seen him and were terrified. But at
once he spoke with them, "Take courage, it is
I, do not be afraid!" He got into the boat
with them and the wind died down. They were
completely astounded. They had not understood the incident of
the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I see in you how
to live life with the Spirit as my foundation, as
the rock that permits me to walk through any
troubled moment with peace and joyful abandonment to your
will. Gratefully I put all my trust in you and
offer all my meager love in return.
grant me the grace not only to know, but
to live your presence as the one and only
foundation of my hope and happiness.
1. He Went off to
the Mountain to Pray: Christ did not run his
interior life on the thrill of immediate success. The
core of what consoled and sustained his heart was
not splendid results in the apostolate, but rather his
prayerful union with his Father in heaven. Whether results for
his mission were easy or hard to obtain, Christ
was equally given and equally motivated. Constancy of spirit
and firmness of will are founded not on momentary results,
but on the peace and deep joy of living
the Father’s will. Christ defends this sacred place in
his heart with one key element: time. Making time for
prayer builds the wall that defends God’s sanctuary in
our soul. Time for him alone is what establishes
a beachhead for the Kingdom in us, so that we
can establish it around us. From there we see
what is passing, superficial or vain. This leads us
to embrace what is eternal, self-giving and perfect in love.
2. He Saw That They Were Tossed About While
Rowing: Whenever the apostles pushed out on the water,
it was a time to learn. Water symbolizes life,
and waves symbolize all the uncertainties of this life, all
the trials and sufferings that seemingly labor to bring
our world to a bad end. Christ consistently tests
and forms more deeply those whom he loves. Troubles are
not eliminated because we have found Christ. Rather, at
times they may increase, for they are the training
ground of a saint and an apostle. Christ saw the
apostles in trouble, but they were never alone—the watchful
gaze of Christ never left them, his care was
never absent. Let my faith bring me to confidence
in that gaze, the all-knowing presence of Christ, in all
I do and suffer for him.
3. "Take Courage,
It Is I, Do Not Be Afraid!": St. Augustine wrote
of this passage, "He came treading the waves; and
so he puts all the swelling tumults of life
under his feet. Christians -- why be afraid?" Walking with
Christ permits us to conquer the waves that wish
to overwhelm us. Contact with him in prayer helps
us to find solid ground in the midst of quicksand.
The conquering Christ reminds us that no evil is
stronger than he, that there is no sin or temptation
that cannot be put behind us, and that there
is no setback in health or business or disappointment
in a loved one that cannot ultimately become a new
good when we walk in cadence with Christ.
Conversation with Christ:Lord, at times I experience all my
human successes and securities with such satisfaction that I
forget that in a moment they could all be taken
from me. In an instant, what was once stable
could turn into a stormy sea. What are these
comforts and goods to me, if from the beginning they
have not been for you, have not honored you?
Will I be able to cling to them in eternity?
Forgive my superficiality in these moments. I seek now
to ground myself more firmly in you, the true
and eternal rock of my life.
seek to remember the goals I have to achieve
today for eternity: holiness of life, fulfillment of God’s
will, and service of my neighbor.