Thursday, August 18, 2011

Why do you doubt?

The Gospel reading for Sunday, August 7th, was a story that has always fascinated me.  I ran across this passage from Father Augustine Stock in his commentary on this particular reading from Matthew.  I always thought that St. Peter was a bit presumptuous to tell the Lord, if it is really you, bid me come.  This commentary was a good reflection, so I thought I would post it. 

   Peter is presented as one in whom the emotions of courage and doubt lie close together.  The hesitant expression, “if it is you” does not spring from a lack recognition, but makes explicit the “little faith” with which Jesus reproaches Peter in verse 31.  The initiative to be allowed to walk on the water must be sanctioned (“command me!” with following infinitive); only then Peter hears the imperative “come!”  A typical disciple, Peter wants to have an order to follow.
    In the Peter scene the water is mentioned explicitly (no longer the sea as earlier) which perhaps underlines Peter’s fear and helplessness.  Peter’s noticing (feeling) the strong wind suffices to revive the first fear; cosmic powers shape the hard-won trust in Jesus, who can save him from going under.  Peter’s outcry, “Lord, save me” is the culmination of Matthew’s insertion.  Ultimately, this urgency wins out in Peter that Jesus alone can help.  Jesus reaches out his hand to save.  But the reproach continues: Peter’s “little faith” (not his unbelief) is upbraided; in temptation situations “little faith” manifests itself in doubt.

How often in life's little trials do we start to doubt in the goodness of God, His love for us, and His providential care for us.  Doubting is usually a result of fear, and if we allow fear to get the upper hand it can block our faith.  Let us all cry out with St. Peter: "Lord, save me" and believe that Jesus is the source of all of our strength, and will give us the courage to walk the path that He has chosen for us. Have a great day!

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