After the five thousand had eaten and were satisfied,
Jesus made his disciples get into the boat
and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida,
while he dismissed the crowd.
And when he had taken leave of them,
he went off to the mountain to pray.
When it was evening,
the boat was far out on the sea and he was alone on shore.
Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing,
for the wind was against them.
About the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them walking on the sea.
He meant to pass by them.
But when they saw him walking on the sea,
they thought it was a ghost and cried out.
They had all seen him and were terrified.
But at once he spoke with them,
"Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!"
He got into the boat with them and the wind died down.
They were completely astounded.
They had not understood the incident of the loaves.
On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.
Our family discussion on this Gospel passage was longer than normal. We actually read the first reading and the Gospel before we began.
The question we started with was: What in this Gospel reading stood out to you?
My husband began by saying what stood out to him was the correlation of the first reading and this Gospel passage. He liked the verse, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18 He said it is interesting that the disciples had so much fear when they thought they were seeing a ghost. We all have a desire for love, and if perfect love drives out fear, the disciples were not there yet. How long had they been with Jesus, and how many miracles had they seen, including the miracle of the loaves and fish, and they still were astounded by the fact that something extraordinary would come from Jesus?
We discussed how the disciples were real people, and this showed that they are like any ordinary person. We agreed that we probably would have been afraid if we saw something or someone coming toward us walking on top of the water too. The disciples were chosen by Jesus to help him with His mission. This was all a learning experience for all of them and it wasn't always easy. Jesus cares so deeply with every word He speaks, and every action. There is meaning in it all. One of my girls asked "why did He mean to pass by them?" That really puzzled her, is that one of the reasons they had fear, because Jesus wouldn't just pass them by, only a stranger or someone they didn't know would just mean to pass by them?
So this leads us to our second question. How does this pertain to us and our lives today?
My husband and I talked about our fears, and how they keep us distanced from the love that God has for us. My husband worries about being able to provide for the family, about making sure the kids will have the opportunity to go to college. I worry most about the family having a relationship with Jesus. The kids each had at least one thing they feared and could see that this fear was a barrier to their trust in Jesus. We wondered what some of the fears of the disciples were and what caused them to not trust and have that perfect love which casts out all fear.
My son said, "when people fear, they stop thinking and start simply reacting. When the disciples saw Jesus, they would have been able to recognize who he was if they had thought about it, but fear made them blind to who he was in that moment." He also said, "it is easy to fear a book you have never read, but difficult to love one. My son loves to read, so him using a reference to a book comes as no surprise. He said, "we have to work on our relationship with Jesus, with God, in order to find that love which we are all looking for."
My daughters said that we are surrounded by blessings on a daily basis. Yet, we are still searching for something more, or something better. They made the correlation to the movie “Its a Wonderful Life”, we are blessed beyond measure and Jesus is always with us, we are loved. Just like the disciples having Jesus with them and the blessings that surround them. But we lose sight of Jesus and all the blessings and the love. My oldest daughter said that always wanting something better is not necessarily a bad thing; because we were made for something better. It is what we do with “always wanting something better” and acting on it that decides if it becomes bad or good.
Do you want something better? What is it that you are searching for? Jesus Christ was born on Christmas day with a mission. A mission to love us. I pray that we can all find the courage to seek Him with all our heart, mind and soul.
May God bless us all.