“One can only admire [Peter’s] faith. Despite what follows, Peter shows himself courageous and trusting in a way that the other disciples do not”. Peter goes out to the stormy sea so that he can join Jesus. Everything is fine at first because Peter’s eyes are fixed on the Lord. But suddenly it changes. Peter sees the severity of the weather. “To say that he ‘saw’ the severity of the weather implies that he took his eyes off Jesus… Having turned his attention away from the Lord, who enabled him to do by grace what he could never do by nature, Peter is left to rely on his own feeble power.” And so, he falls into the sea, and cries out “Lord, Save me!”
Our readings this weekend remind us how important it is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. During my time in the seminary, Bishop Barron reminded us, seminarians, that our lives had to be centered on our Lord Jesus. This, he emphasized, was essential for any parish priest, because if we are to share with others the good news of Jesus Christ, we have to know him. The same is true for all of us here. Christ has to be the center of our lives.
How do we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus? The answer is simple: it’s by cultivating an intimate prayer life with Jesus. I find it sort of humorous that at the beginning of our Gospel this weekend, Matthew writes, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side. Jesus needed some space. So he sent his disciples on ahead of him so that he could have some quiet time for prayer so that he could talk with His Father. Prayer was a central element of Jesus’ life. And so our prayer life with God, really ought to be the central element of our lives.
In our first reading, Elijah is told to Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by… [and] After the fire, Elijah finds God, in a tiny whispering sound. This is prayer. Jesus teaches us this weekend that we find God in the quiet of our hearts. Intimate prayer happens when we find solitude with God. Another way to express it is that prayer is when our hearts speak to the heart of Christ.
In today’s busy world, we have every distraction available, and these can make prayer difficult. But our challenge this weekend is to seek solitude. Our challenge is to imitate Jesus, who sought time to pray and talk with His Father in heaven.
Prayer will not take our storms in life away. But, prayer, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, will give us the grace to persevere through any storms we may experience. But Prayer is much more than God rescuing us in a time of need. Prayer is a relationship, where God constantly fills us with his love, gives us purpose and identity. Prayer is communion and friendship with God. May the Eucharist we receive this weekend strengthen our fidelity to prayer.
In Christ’s Friendship,