“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

 

 

Friends, our Gospel today is the story of Jesus walking on the water. Water is, throughout the Scriptures, a symbol of danger. At the very beginning, the spirit of the Lord hovered over the surface of the waters. This signals God’s lordship over all of the powers of disorder.

In all four Gospels there is a version of this story of Jesus mastering the waves. The boat, with Peter and the other disciples, is evocative of the Church. It moves through the waters, as the Church will move through time. Storms—chaos, corruption, stupidity, danger, persecution—will inevitably arise.

Now during the fourth watch of the night, which is to say the darkest time of the night, Jesus comes walking on the sea. This is meant to be an affirmation of his divinity: just as the spirit of God hovered over the waters at the beginning, so Jesus hovers over them now. So he says to his terrified disciples: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

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