We sometimes feel like we can walk on water. We have enjoyed moments when everything in life clicked into place. ‘Happiness’ hormones flow when effort, hope and desire are rewarded with top results. Sporting results can thrill and leave us euphoric. Outstanding achievements delight and exhilarate us. In the ecstasy of glory we feel so positive we can walk on water.
Enjoy the moment while it lasts. As the hormones ebb, we sink quickly back into the reality of life. Glory and disappointment co-exist; walking and sinking are its simplistic dynamics. And in unsympathetic reality we seem to sink more than we walk. But this imbalance need not be and we can haul ourselves out of the water more often when we trust in God and embrace a faith life.
There is a balance to life’s journey. Faith is a counter force to the gravity of life’s issues that drown us. Without belief, faith and trust we journey alone in the strong currents of fear. With belief we know we have God. But we need to turn this belief into faith and trust in order that the currents of life’s challenges do not suck us under. When we have a faith life many difficulties will flow under our feet as our trust in God buoys us.
Belief need to become faith. A faith life is a lived experience. Trust in born out of experience. Trusting in God comes out of a personal experience of God. A vibrant faith life is coloured by numerous such experiences. When we actively seek out such experiences we grow our trust in God; we allow a lot more water to flow beneath us and we walk our journey knowing we will not drown.
Prayer is the beginning of active seeking. A priest in Bangkok shared this week about the three types of prayer in today’s passage. Jesus “went up into the hills by himself to pray” and so must we spend time to pray so as to develop a personal relationship with God and to listen to him. When the disciple “took fright and began to sink”, we must be like Peter when we are troubled to cry and pray, “Lord! Save me!” “And as they got into the boat the wind dropped. The men in the boat bowed down before him and said, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’” When in ecstasy, let us bow in thanksgiving and pray to acknowledge his presence in our daily life.
The prayer we know best is the prayer when we cry out in desperation and fear. And Jesus knows that all too well as he “put out his hand at once and held him”. He knows about the undertow in our life. He understands the hurt when we fail to achieve and when we end last in bitter disappointment because more often this is the unsympathetic reality of our earthly life. But he wants to be there for us to comfort and console in the shattering moments of life. Through this prayer for help we will experience him.
Be quiet. Be still. Be trusting. Be grateful. Be thankful. He comes to us not in a mighty wind or in an earthquake or in a fire. He comes in a gentle wind. He comes to redress the balance of life, to counter its negative forces. Physically and humanly, we cannot but spiritually and in the gentleness of a faith life we can calmly walk on water.
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time