I Kings 19:9a, 11-13a; Rom 9: 1-5; Matt 14: 22-33
“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters” (Gen 1:1-2). We all recognize this as the opening of the Bible, the first lines of Genesis. God’s Spirit hovering over the waters creating order out chaos, walking over the great abyss. We certainly know chaos in the world around us. Do we see order and harmony or disorder?
When Jesus sends his disciples off in a boat and goes off to pray, he probably knew what he was going to do. To the Israelites this sea was a serious, scary thing. There were strange things down there, and it was violently powerful. The sea was showing its great power. Again, what we see, and what Jesus is demonstrating, is that the power of God rules over the power of the sea. Along with those in the boat, we see a great demonstration of Christ’s power — a revelation now to that small group in the boat and to Peter, in particular. This was to increase their faith in Him and to help them recognize His Divine identity.
Notice he says, “It is I.” That “I” recalls the Hebrew scriptures where the Lord God reveals himself as I AM – I AM who Am. That is what Jesus is saying in here. It is I. I AM I who Am. Jesus in this gospel passage recalls God the Father on the first day of creation moving over the waters. Jesus is the Messiah who makes God the Father visible.
Peter is head of the Church. The Church is often represented as a boat; the barque of Peter it is called. We see that on our stained-glass window behind us. The Church will go through stormy seas, but the Lord is there with the Church. The wind and the seas buffet the Church, but they will not prevail against. That’s the point. That’s true of this parish community, St. Andrew Church, as well. The Holy Spirit brings calm, peace, harmony and order to the chaos.
Peter, in this account, also represents us. He asks Jesus, very specifically, “Command me come to you on the water.” So Jesus bids him, “Come!” Peter does so. One biblical scholar says that Peter begins to share in the power of the Lord by walking on the water, too. Only afterward, when he takes his eyes off Jesus, he sinks.
Now how does this apply to us? Psalm 107 says: “He reduced the storm to a whisper.” The power of God, of his might, exists in our lives. We can forget this and slip into thinking it all depends on us. The spiritual challenge for us is to recognize, as did Peter and the other disciples, that God’s power is greater than ours. We can ask the Lord Jesus to act in a situation. We keep our eyes fixed on Christ Jesus, — as an individual, as a parish, as the universal church – on Christ Jesus whose body and blood become present here on this altar of sacrifice.