We read the story of Noah's Ark in the Old Testament. (Genesis 6-8). The only way for Noah and his family to be safe from the flood was to get in the Ark. For forty days and forty nights the storm raged and the floodwaters came. Everything that was not in the Ark was swept away. Outside the Ark there was total destruction, but inside the Ark the animals and Noah’s family were safe. Once the storm stopped and flood waters subsided, God called Noah and his family out of the Ark to live life.
Today’s Gospel tells another story of a boat and a raging storm. In this case the Disciples were already in the boat when the storm began. It was God that was outside in the waves. Saint Peter said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to you on the water.” (Matthew 14.28) Christ called him out of the boat and Saint Peter walked on water in the middle of the storm. Once Saint Peter noticed just how bad the storm was, he panicked and began to sink. Christ pulled Saint Peter out of the water and they returned to the boat. Once they were safe in the boat, the storm stopped.
It is not an accident the Church uses the term “Ark” to describe the Temple/Church. In Greek, Ναός, is the word for ship or ark. In English we use the word, “Nave” to describe the inside of the Church building. Outside the walls of the Church, outside the Ark, the storm of life is raging. Inside the Church we are with God, safe and comfortable.
The Church is the Ark of Salvation. At our baptism we enter the Ark as members of the family of God. As His children we are saved from death and destruction just as Noah and his family were saved from the death of the flood. We are called out of the Ark every Sunday to walk on the stormy water with Christ just as Saint Peter was called out.
If we stay out too long and the storm rages around us, we panic and begin to sink. Thankfully Christ is willing to pull us up and bring us back into the Ark, the Church, where we are safe again. If we stay out too long, if we stay away from the Church too long, we will sink and be swept away.
So long as we keep our focus on Christ, just as Saint Peter kept his eyes on Christ, we will be able to walk above the storm. So long as we don’t panic we will rise above the storm. When the storm does rage, and when we do lose our focus, we are always brought back by Christ to the Ark. It is safe in the Ark, but we still must step outside and live life. Noah and his family were eventually called out of the Ark. The Disciples eventually left the boat. We will eventually step outside the walls of the Church to face the storms of life.
Just then Christ will say to us, “O you of little faith. Why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14.31) That is when we will remember today’s story and say, “Lord save me,” and He will bring us back to Church the next Sunday and every Sunday where we are safe.