By Fr. Tony Fortman, C.PP.S.
Today, we see Jesus walking on the water, a miracle indeed. This is a violation of a natural occurrence. Peter also walks on the water until he takes his eyes off Jesus.
I can remember my first swimming lesson at Spring Lake in Pandora, Ohio. I actually got thrown into the water. I then did my best to dog paddle back to the cement wall. Some may say that this is a crude way to teach someone swim. It might have been, but it was effective.
Each day, you and I are thrown into this arena called life. We may have some expertise in daily experiences. But there are times when we are out of our element. We don’t know which way to turn. Peter was willing to step out of the boat. He was willing to take a chance.
I commend Peter in his belief and action. I admit that sometimes I don’t want to leave the boat and its security. Peter denies Jesus three times but he was willing to follow him. He was willing to speak when others would remain silent. That has to catch your attention. Many times Peter was not in control of the future but he was willing to speak up. Yes, he put his foot in his mouth many times. He did not follow through on what he said. Remember when Peter said that he would even die for Christ? But he denied him right away. Peter did die for Jesus but it took a while for him to have the courage to stand for Christ.
In some of my conversations with people, I see I don’t always want to speak up to reveal myself in speech, and maybe they don’t either. I want to play it safe. I want people to appreciate me. I don’t want to be seen as being wrong. I want to have a perfect record in the eyes of others. But when I am not willing to take a chance and speak up or risk being wrong in the eyes of others, then I actually die.
I don’t have to impress others. I just have to be willing to be a disciple of Christ. I don’t need other people’s approval. In fact, many people will disagree with what I say. God wants me to give my best to others now. God is asking all of us to get out of the boat. Stop playing it safe and stop being a perfectionist. Stop judging others from your safe perch. God and others need you to be you. You will make mistakes. There will be people waiting to laugh at you and say that you’re wrong. Don’t look for consolation from others but look to Christ’s affirmation. Keep your eyes on Jesus. God bless you all.
Fr. Tony Fortman, C.PP.S., is the pastor of the St. Gaspar Family of Parishes in Dayton.