Thoughts from the Cave

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – A Lectionary: 115

The Gospel of Matthew 14: 22-33 is called by most “The Walking on the Water.” There is much more taking place besides Jesus walking on the water. Yet, His power over the elements and the climax of the passage, since this aspect in the climax offers a powerful lesson, is the reaction to the event by the disciples. Three major lessons are taught in this passage: the power of prayer, the need for God in one’s life, and how focusing on God can overcome fear.  

The first of these lessons involves the power of prayer. As the passage begins, the disciples are told to leave in a boat and to meet Jesus on the opposite side of the sea. This event initially does not seem that important. As the story progresses it becomes obvious why Jesus has the disciples go out onto the sea. Jesus wanted to spend time in prayer with the Father. Before beginning to pray, Jesus goes a little ways up the mountain for privacy. Thus we see a person who is going to pray should pray where it is quiet, so there is little distraction. The second lesson taught about prayer is revealed when Jesus is next seen by the disciples. They meet during the fourth watch, which is between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m. Jesus must have been in prayer for at least 12 hours. Thus when a person prays, that person should pray a long length of time, enabling the person to grow in his contact with God.

The third lesson from the passage is the need for God in our lives. While Jesus is praying to the Father, Peter and the disciples are being tossed about on a boat in the sea. As Jesus walks up, the disciples fear the storm and Him, because they think He is a ghost. After Jesus proclaimed who He is, the storm died down, calming Peter and the disciples. Jesus had claimed their full attention. After Peter lost his focus, he began to perish. But Jesus saved him and then used this opportunity to proclaim His divinity. Thus we need God – so that we do not perish and become engulfed by evil.

The fourth lesson from this account is that when people are focused on God, then they are not focused on fear. This lesson is taught when He saved Peter and when He calmed the storm. “After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did Him homage, saying, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’” [1]  When Jesus was with them the wind from the storm died down. Jesus had rescued Peter and the disciples. He showed His power over the elements.  He was the conqueror of man’s fear and death.

God bless,
Fr. Anthony E. Camilleri

[1] The Complete Parallel Bible, Oxford University Press, New York, 1993, p 2720