19th Sunday Ordinary Time – Walk on the Water
The story of Jesus walking on the water leads through the churning seas to get to two hopeful places. Thalassa, “sea,” and peran, “on the other side” point us toward the light of Christ shining on all who dwell under the shadow of death. Which is what many of us worry about these days – especially our brothers & sisters in Guam – from North Korea.
Matthew 4:15f “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, on the other side the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.”
And one key subtext – at the start of chapter fifteen, Jesus learns of the death of John the Baptist. He wants to go to the mountain to pray to deal, I believe, with this powerful foreshadowing of his own death on Calvary. The disciples must have gotten this, too, right?
So, implicitly, Matthew contrasts John – grounded, stalwart, unwavering as a “reed [not] shaken in the wind” – with Peter and the disciples terrified in the boat.
This announcement of John’s death tested them, I believe, that they each might see whether they were grounded in the word. Like this… which also has to do with wind:
Matthew 7:25–27 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”
Perhaps we who profess faith in Christ are being ‘tested’ in our time by the threat of war with North Korea:
- Have we built the house of our faith on rock or sand?
- Can we believe in, hope in the light that shines on all dwelling under the shadow of death?