Living in Florida we know the meaning of the eye of the storm, that calm moment when a hurricane passes directly overhead. Surrounded by sometimes horrific conditions, the eye is that brief moment when we can catch our breath, sometimes literally, before the storm returns. I think maybe that might have been the experience of St Peter in today’s Gospel lesson.
We hear the story each year around this time, fittingly during hurricane season, so we have become familiar with the story. We know how it ends, but have we ever taken the time to consider what it means for us, more than two thousands years later? Too often we hear the readings from Scripture and, especially when we know the story, tend to tune out, but not this year.
This year is obviously different. In truth every year is different, but this year we recognize the unique times we are experiencing due to our health crisis. This year we can hear the words of the Scriptures and better relate. The virus has created the same fear and anxiety in many people as we look ahead and wonder when the storm will end. Like the Apostles we search for hope, and seeing Christ, we wonder if He is really in front of us, or is just a ghost?
Peter had to know! “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” (Matthew 14.28) It was the Lord, and Peter jumped in and walked on the water toward Christ. In the quick moment it must have felt like the eye of the storm. Then as quickly as it had come, it was gone and Peter began to sink. “Lord save me! And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him,” (Matthew 14.30-31) but not before challenging Peter to a higher faith.
My brothers and sisters, this current health crisis will not last forever. No storm ever lasts, and Christ is right here waiting for us to walk to him in the midst of the storm and experience the calm that is only possible when we focus on Him. As soon as Jesus got into the boat with the Apostles, the storm stopped.
I don’t know if we are in the eye of the storm now, nor do I know how long the storm will last. Nobody knows but God. At least this year we can search for those moments of calm, and focus on Christ.