I am about half way through Nelson Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. It has been most enlightening to learn about the fight of the African people to end Apartheid. Mandela's role evolved over the years but as he writes about the events that occurred it is very interesting to see how he grew to accept his destiny in spite of the consequences. This week's Gospel provides a snippet of another story about the choice to pursue one's destiny.
After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. "It is a ghost," they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." Peter said to him in reply, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come." Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" 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." Matthew 14:22-33
Of all the disciples in the boat Peter is the only one to bravely step out onto the water towards Jesus. There is so much going on in this scene as Peter demonstrates his faith in Jesus. From fear of a ghost to an expectant request and then an incredibly bold step, Peter chooses to pursue Jesus. Yes he eventually becomes frightened again and Jesus has to rescue him but Peter has experienced something amazing. The others in the boat only observed Peter's steps of faith.
Call it a step of faith, a long walk to freedom or a journey with God. You and I are expected to boldly pursue Jesus Christ. We must do so knowing that it will not be easy. We must be willing to accept the persecution and the possible pain and suffering we may endure.
Peter's boldness took him on a path that ultimately led to his death. Mandela spent a third of his life in jail in pursuit of a free South Africa. No one suffered more than Jesus Himself. Why should you and I expect to coast through our Christian journey? Prayerfully try this. Say to Jesus, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you ..." Fill in your blank. Trust in Jesus to invite you to "Come" to Him. I pray that you will then choose to take that step!