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My Response to Dr. Marcellino

      DR. MARCELLINO D’AMBROSIO is a respected Catholic Theologian but I want to expand upon his own posting about the spiritual-emotional aspects of the Matthew Gospel through my experience and training as a social worker and spiritual director

How can we relate to the Gospel Story of Matthew: Jesus Walks On Water.  What is in this story for us, today?

The most common interpretation of this story is that we must keep our eyes on Jesus:  Its the eye on the prize statement.  Great statement, I just don't think that explanation does much.  We should look to Jesus and if we do we see there is more to this story than that statement suggests.

Let's look at it as analogy to battling fear.  Clearly none of us would step out of the safety and comfort of a boat to try and walk on "raging waters?!"  Who would do that? A crazy person!  But its Jesus who walks calmly on the water to the disciplines in the boat.  Jesus was both God and man so he had experiences of all the emotions and situations we have: fear being one of them, remember the if this cup can pass over me?

He also has control of the elements/himself; and sees walking on this raging water as no big deal.  He has control...control.  He is asking us to control our emotional response to situations, to see them clearly so we can judge what is the appropriate thing to do.  So we can calm our raging seas!

So, Peter steps out of the boat - crazy? No, Jesus has invited Peter out onto the water stepping out of his comfort zone.  Jesus is asking Peter to test his response to a fear.  He wants Peter to be strong, and Peter has faith Jesus will save him.  But there is more to what Jesus wants for us, not just to save us.  If we assume that all we have to do is wait for Jesus to save us we are missing a HUGE point to the story: faith and the CONTROL WE HAVE OVER OUR EMOTIONS!  If we assume that its only Jesus' job to save us that turns Jesus into a magic man who waves a wand and makes everything all right.  Jesus wants us to participate in our own "salvation." He wants us to have faith in ourselves and in what is God given to us.   Let's examine how Jesus guides Peter to find that:

First Jesus goes off to pray.  Now when ever we pray we should be very conscience that we are in the presence of God, and it is through God that all good comes.  Prayer helps us focus ourselves and connect with the positive that is in us and with us through God.

Secondly, Jesus tells Peter, and us, to take courage.  Don't be afraid to look at or do something that is out of your comfort zone.  It is also a call to really look at your situation.  The disciples are in the boat thinking they are seeing a ghost, Jesus tells them to take courage, what are you really seeing?  He tells them don't be afraid.  Fear is truly a powerful emotion.  It can generate in us a good dose of being prepared, or it paralyzes us.  Far too often we are paralyzed, and this is what Jesus is telling the disciples to NOT be, so fearful they do nothing.

Thirdly, Peter says to the Lord to commend him to come to him.  Here Peter is trying to take that big boy pill we have to take and recognize that somethings things that are good for aren't always easy, you try walking on raging waters.  And we all have raging waters in our lives!  With each confident step, and here is the command: confidence;  Peter is taking he is moving closer to his goal, until he loses faith.  Now here is where I dislike all the commentaries that say the statement little faith refers to Peter's immature faith --Please!  Faith, here aka confidence in oneself and in God is what is little.  If Peter's faith was immature do you honestly think he would willingly risk so much to trust Jesus?  We all have crisis of confidence and that is what leads us to little faith, to doubt.  Doubt is the little faith.

Finally we see the response even to the doubt: Realization that God is Lord.  If we realize that God is always there when we call out to him and his response to us is immediate than doubt is gone, or more truthfully going with each raging wave.

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