Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
In today’s Gospel reading Jesus set an example for us how to be a leader, parent, friend, spiritual guide or a person of authority.
At the beginning of the reading, we see Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. What we can learn from Jesus in this instance is that people in authority should first get in touch with their deepest selves from time. They should be time for them to be with God in prayer. Do we, who may occupy a managerial position at work, be a parent, or a leader of a community, also regularly spend some time with God? How do we spend my day? Do I always to be occupied by works, task and people? Look at Jesus, and we realize that it is God who we rely on. It is God who gives us the strength to carry on our life and mission.
In addition to our need time to be spent with God as leaders, we should also give those under our care the space and time to be with God. Jesus sends his disciples to the other side of the sea and dismisses the crowds so that they can grow in their own pace. Many times, we try to give direct help to others so that they can catch with us. Is this the proper way for a person to learn? No, Jesus doesn’t think it that way. He prefers to let them go though he has to rescue them at the end of the day. But that is another issue.
At the time of saying his prayer, Jesus is aware that his disciples are in difficulties. So he comes to their assistance and rescue. He walks on the water to their boat. Jews saw the sea as evil and the dwelling place of monsters. That is why when the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water, they became afraid and cried: “It is a ghost!” Biblical symbolizes that Jesus walks confidently and boldly in the evil environment to save us. We may ask how come Jesus is so confident and bold. Can we note that Jesus’ walking on the water takes place after his prayer in silence and solitude? Every time we spend time alone with God in our prayer, we come out from it with confidence and courage.
When the disciples were afraid, Jesus comforts them with these words: ““Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Such an encouragement from Jesus, the master and the teacher, sets us the example how we should do with people who fear. How often we discourage people who are afraid instead of encouraging them?
Having been encouraged by Jesus, Peter wants to walk with Jesus on the water. Jesus simply says, “Come.” Look, how Jesus encourages us to be imaginative and to take risk in following him. He never refuses anyone who asks. Do we also react in the same way as Jesus when someone brings us a new project or his own ways or ideas to do something? How Jesus allows us to bring out the best of us? What kind of freedom he grants to us?
After saving Peter from getting down to the water, Jesus and his disciples are on board the boat. He then rebuts the wind and calms the storms. It is a symbol his power over the forces of evil. And for the disciples, the coming on board of Jesus with them represents the presence of God, so they bow down before him.
In summary, today’s Gospel reading reminds us of the importance of solitary prayer, which is the source of our power and courage. Amen.