Brothers and sisters: I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie; my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh.
We are called to recognize and live in the power of God.
St. Paul was distraught because he saw the potential the Jesus offered His own people and the fact that His people, in large part, did not recognize the great gift of salvation He came to bring.
Jesus came walking out on the water. We often talk about the fact the Peter got out of the boat, and in faith came walking across the water toward Jesus. He would then falter in his faith and go sinking to the depths. It is a powerful image. We should recognize the fact that a lack of faith, a lack of recognition preceded that event. In the fourth watch of the night He went towards them, walking on the lake they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost’ they said, and cried out in fear. But at once Jesus called out to them saying, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ It was Peter who answered, ‘Lord,’ he said ‘if it is You, tell me to come to You across the water.’
The disciples in the boat were rightly terrified but Jesus called out to them. Why didn’t they recognize His voice? They had been with Him for some time now. They heard Him preaching. They saw Him healing. Yet, in their moment of fear they failed to recognize the voice they had heard so often. Peter strongly challenged the voice he should have recognized. He challenged that voice to call him out onto the water.
As faithful Christians we hear the voice of Jesus at least weekly. If we read scripture and pray regularly, we hear Him daily. We should be well trained to recognize Him no matter the circumstance. Yet somehow, when we are afraid or troubled, we close our ears to His voice. We may even, like Peter, say: ‘if it is You, tell me to come to You across my troubles.’ When times are good, we may fail to recognize that He is there, providing for our good. When we have an opportunity for living out the image of Christ in us, we may forget that His image is in us and His grace is there to lead us in the right direction.
Paul was troubled because his people failed to recognize Jesus at all. As His disciples, we should be troubled if we do not recognize Him in every aspect of our lives.
Jesus calls us out onto the water, to take that big step, the leap of faith that shows how closely we are bound to Him. Let us recognize Him, His voice, and His powerful presence in every aspect of our lives and so live faithfully as His disciples. He says: ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’