January 6, 2016
Today’s gospel: Mark 6:45-52
Jesus performed another miracle. With the disciples in a boat “far out on the sea” (v.47), Jesus “came toward them walking on the sea.” (v.48b). He was walking on water, defying laws of nature and gravity.
Now what was the reaction of his disciples? They could not believe it. “But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost” (v.49). Very reasonable, wasn’t it? After all, no one can walk on water. So it must be some kind of mirage. But then they realized it was indeed Jesus walking on the sea. So how did they react? “They had all seen him and were terrified.” (v.50a). They accepted what Jesus clearly was doing, but they were bewildered, confounded, confused, even afraid of what was happening. They could not grasp the reality that God does work miracles, and that for God nothing is impossible.
Well, that is for God. How about us? In the parallel passage in Matthew, the story goes on. Peter asks Jesus to command him to come to Jesus on the water. Jesus said just one word, “Come,” and Peter got out of the boat and started to walk on the water! We can do what God does as He empowers us to. After all, we do His work, we stand in His name, we proclaim the good news of His Kingdom.
We must go about our work with boldness. This is the only way. The gospel cannot reach the ends of the earth with workers who are afraid, who are confused, who do not have authentic faith in Jesus. The kingdom of darkness cannot fall unless it is assaulted with great vigor and determination. We cannot advance if we cower in the face of a powerful diabolical enemy. We should not be disheartened even as, like the disciples, “they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them.” (v.48a). So Jesus tells us, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” (v.50b). We simply press on. We persevere and endure. We boldly go forth.
Now I want to warn you of a great danger. It is allowing what God reveals to us to make us turn away rather than go deeper into our faith and work. This happens when we continue to think and see with our fallen human minds and hearts. It happens when we continue to insist on our own ways rather than yielding to God’s ways. When things happen that we cannot grasp, including miracles, some decide that is not what they want, and fall away. “They had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.” (v.52). How truly tragic. God reveals Himself, God performs signs and wonders, and we choose to wallow in our own perceptions and desires.
Let us believe in miracles, like a humble child awed by the designs of an Almighty Father. Let us not insist on our ways with hardened hearts. Let us accept what God reveals to us with regard to our life and work, and never be afraid.