Jeremiah 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you.
For thus says the Lord:
Your hurt is incurable,
your wound is grievous.
There is no one to uphold your cause,
no medicine for your wound,
no healing for you.
All your lovers have forgotten you;
they care nothing for you;
for I have dealt you the blow of an enemy,
the punishment of a merciless foe,
because your guilt is great,
because your sins are so numerous.
Why do you cry out over your hurt?
Your pain is incurable.
Because your guilt is great,
because your sins are so numerous,
I have done these things to you.
Thus says the Lord:
I am going to restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob,
and have compassion on his dwellings;
the city shall be rebuilt upon its mound,
and the citadel set on its rightful site.
Out of them shall come thanksgiving,
and the sound of merrymakers.
I will make them many, and they shall not be few;
I will make them honored, and they shall not be disdained.
Their children shall be as of old,
their congregation shall be established before me;
and I will punish all who oppress them.
Their prince shall be one of their own,
their ruler shall come from their midst;
I will bring him near, and he shall approach me,
for who would otherwise dare to approach me?
says the Lord.
And you shall be my people,
and I will be your God.
Psalm 102:15-22, 28
The nations will fear the name of the Lord,
and all the kings of the earth your glory.
For the Lord will build up Zion;
he will appear in his glory.
He will regard the prayer of the destitute,
and will not despise their prayer.
Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord:
that he looked down from his holy height,
from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to set free those who were doomed to die;
so that the name of the Lord may be declared in Zion,
and his praise in Jerusalem,
when peoples gather together,
and kingdoms, to worship the Lord.
The children of your servants shall live secure;
their offspring shall be established in your presence.
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. After the people of that place recognized him, they sent word throughout the region and brought all who were sick to him, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
“Depart from me, for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8). These words were uttered by the same man who in the Gospel today, told Jesus, “Lord, if it is you, command that I come to you” and stepped out of a boat to walk on water toward Jesus. What had changed between that first encounter and this one?
In both cases, Peter was on a boat and was in a situation where he saw his own powerlessness followed by an experience of seeing Jesus’ power. His first response to this power was to see his unworthiness before God. Just as the first reading begins with a lament for Israel’s sins, Peter recognized his own failures very clearly in light of Jesus’ goodness, but when his focus was solely on his shortcomings, his first reaction was to push the Lord away instead of asking what His will was for him in spite of those sins.
Later, after responding to Jesus’ call to follow Him, walking with Jesus for a period of time and growing in his relationship with the Lord, Peter had came to a place where he knew that, no matter what the situation was – even if it entailed walking on water -- Jesus would call him to come closer. He also knew that there would be enough grace in obeying the Lord’s call that he would be able to do what was impossible for him on his own. And though Peter did lose focus for a moment the way he also did in that first encounter with Jesus, he still knew that Jesus was the one who would lift him back up.
We can learn a great deal about faith from St. Peter today. He reminds us that, first of all, it is always God’s will that we come closer to Him. He also reminds us that stepping out in faith is not about following our own ideas and relying on our own strength but of responding to a call from the Lord and trusting Him to provide what we need. Finally, he also shows us that when (not if) our faith fails, the answer again is to cry out to Jesus.
Where do you place yourself in this story today? Are you on the boat being rocked by a storm, unsure of where the Lord is and how to recognize Him? Is God calling you step out in faith and trust Him to do something that feels risky? Have you been walking in faith but trials are tempting you to take your eyes off Jesus? Are you sinking? Wherever you are, call out to Jesus today. Be assured that He loves you, wants you to draw closer to Him, and will give you the grace to overcome whatever obstacles are in your way if you choose to turn to Him.