Just few hours after Jesus had multiplied bread and fish for five thousand men, the disciples had already forgotten about it.
While it should not be surprising for them that the guy could heal every sickness, feed the whole town using a few loaves of bread and some fish, could also walk on the water – they remained skeptical.
Jesus is the Messiah. He is God. He is not just the prophet, healer, or king that people wanted him to be.
“Take courage. It is I. Do not be afraid,” Jesus said. He speaks these words to us, too.
Being afraid is the source of most of our struggles in our relationship with God.
Our adventure of faith is that we are entirely similar to the disciples. We, too, have hardened hearts. We see Jesus as a healer, a friend, the Messiah, our guide, the bread of life. But if we are honest and sincere with ourselves, He is not yet the God of the universe in our lives. He is not yet the God whom you shall worship alone.
And so it is difficult to recognize His presence in the storms of our lives. It is so difficult to see him walking on the water, because it is not rooted deeply enough in us that He can do it.
If Jesus would be truly God in our lives then we would not have so much difficulty finding time to pray.
We would not worry so much about our lives.
We would be more generous with our time, money, and resources. We would have already built bigger churches because, by our witness, we would have attracted many more people – attract, not dragged.
Peter was afraid. He doubted and he began to sink.
I think everybody is afraid of something. Fears are always with us in our daily lives.
What are you afraid of? Losing your job? Not being able to pay your bills? Your child getting sick?
The unexpected death of yourself or someone close? That your marriage won’t make it?
You may have fear of the dark, or of lightning. Maybe you’re scared of being in closed-in places, or planes, or heights, or even dogs.
Or on more personal level, you are afraid of going to pray because you sense that what God tells you is not what you want to hear.
You may be afraid of talking to your teenage children or your spouse, because it seems like they are in totally different worlds than yours.
You may be afraid of confessing your sins, because you think that your sins are too awful to be forgiven.
40 percent of the things we worry about will never happen. 30 percent concerns old decisions that can’t be altered. 12 percent centers on criticism, mostly untrue by people who feel inferior. 10 percent is related to our health, which worsens while I worry. Eight percent is legitimate, showing that life does have real problems that may be met head on.
My greatest fears have been like yours, perhaps. I grew up poor in Poland. My parents were farmers for the government. In middle school, I was afraid that the other kids would laugh at me because of my non-stylish clothes.
I was terrified of talking to people. For many years, I could not force myself to talk to new people, especially girls. Maybe that was good, because I never had to marry one.
I still have a fear of ghosts, and I can’t watch horror movies.
I also had a fear of loneliness. Before I was called to become a priest, I was afraid of the solitary life. Then, God called me to not only become a priest, but to move to the United States, away from everything and everyone I had ever known. No wife and no children to accompany me, either.
Guess what? It’s not bad. Even more, I like loneliness. Sometimes it is painful, but she is one of my best friends. She allows me to sit and listen.
Matthew tells us in Chapter 14, verses 25-31.
Jesus went out to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost!” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus spoke up at once: “Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” “Lord, if it is You,” Peter replied, “command me to come to You on the water.” “Come,” said Jesus. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and took hold of Peter. “You of little faith,” He said, “why did you doubt?”
Father Mateusz Rudzik is the pastor of St. Joseph Church and School in Tuskegee and St. Vincent de Paul Church in Tallassee. He also hosts “Our Life’s Journey” on WACQ-AM 580 and FM 98.5/101.1 each Sunday. For more information, visit www.stvincent-tallassee.org.