I would like to invite everyone to listen in the quiet spaces of our hearts these words of Jesus, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” We cannot see him through our naked eye, but through the eyes of our faith we recognise him and feel his presence. Let us listen to these words especially when we face our storms in life, when we struggle with our hurts and pains, our temptations and trials.
These words of Jesus assure us that we are never alone even in the darkest moments of our life. When our faith is tested, let us not not run away from God. St. Mary MacKillop, our own saint in Australia testified to us in her words, “When I could not see my way, God kept my heart full of trust to make all come right.” There are so many words in the Scriptures that we can turn to, to ponder, meditate, contemplate, to claim as our own. See Isaiah 43:1-3 for example when God reassures his people, “Do not be afraid, for I have indeed redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters I am with you…for I am I am the LORD your God, your Saviour.”
The Gospel story (Matthew 14:22-33) resonates with our common human experience of trembling and fear. The disciples of Jesus were on a boat tossed about in the waves raised by strong winds. They were terrified even to see Jesus walking on the lake as they thought he was a ghost. This reminds us of the many times we are too much worried and anxious, terrified by the challenges of life. This is a sign of our weak faith, and so Jesus admonishes us “It is I. Do not be afraid.” He is pronouncing the name of God revealed to Moses in Mount Sinai, “I am who I am.” This is indeed confirmed by those who witnessed after Jesus calmed the storm, “Beyond doubt you are the Son of God!”
Peter wanting the proof ask Jesus to let him come to Jesus across the water. He did, but then again when he perceived the strong wind was frightened and began to sink. He cried out, “Lord save me!” What is humanly impossible, Peter had experienced but he lost sight with Jesus. He thought he had to walk on his own. Jesus had to admonish him, “how little faith you have, why did you falter?” It is then when ourselves become the centre of the universe, when we focus on our hurts and pains, our weaknesses and take our eyes off from Jesus that we begin to sink. The secret is faith in God, for with it God is never out of sight.
But how do we dispose ourselves to this gift of faith? Let us begin with experience of Elijah in the first reading (1 Kings 19:9, 11-13). After the heavy wind, earthquake or the fire, a tiny whispering sound came, and Elijah knew very well it was the presence of the Lord. So, let us give God a quiet space in our lives, physically and spiritually. When we are sinking and crying, Lord save us, let us fix our gaze to the One who has already conquered evil, death and suffering, our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us put our trust in him who tells us, “It is I. Do not be afraid.”
— Fr Regie, MSP