On my first foreign trip alone, I was so afraid.  I did not know any of the other passengers. I was imagining a terrorist hijacking or a possible plane crash. Then I was overjoyed when I was assigned to the middle seats together with three nuns. I talked to the Sister next to me. But she cut me short by saying: ‘Please don’t talk to us.  We spend our travel time praying.’ I fell silent.

Then there was turbulence before we reached Thailand. Air pockets caused the plane to shake and plunge.  I took out my rosary.  The lights went off and emergency lights turned on.  When the plane passed through the storm, the lights returned and I saw the Sister clinging to my arm.  I turned to her and said: Excuse me, Sister, but please don’t touch me.  I want to be left alone!

All of us have fears. Some fears are irrational and others are sensible, understandable. There is a combination of these in the Gospel today.  The disciples traveling by boat were afraid of the big waves, the contrary winds, the “ghost” they thought Jesus was. Peter was frightened by the strong winds and the prospect of drowning. The disciples too, had to confront their fears.

Today we live amidst many fears.  Our lives are surrounded with intimidating factors.  Some are quite easy to handle but others really demand great fortitude to solve.  As Christians, we are no different from the rest of humanity that wakes up to its worries and goes to bed with the same concerns.

In the midst of their fears, Jesus appeared, walking on the water, addressing the disciples:  ‘Take courage. It is I. Do not be afraid.’  When Peter asked to come closer to him, Jesus invited him to walk on the water towards him.  It seemed impossible, but Peter did it…for a while. Jesus appeared in the moment of greatest fear to infuse faith and strength in the hearts of friends.

Before the Lord, be honest about your own fears. What are they? Are you afraid of what other people say about you and your family?  Are you afraid to spread your wings because of people who belittle you? Some people live in oppressive and violent environments but are afraid to extinguish that experience. Some are unhappy with jobs or relationships but are afraid to cut their dependency on them. We know we want to go somewhere, be somebody, do something and yet we are stifled by fear of making the bold and necessary step.

Jesus invited Peter to walk on the water so that he can overcome his fear, so that his fear may be replaced by faith. Peter nearly sank for he focused on the winds but he was saved when he grabbed the hands of the Lord. Jesus always comes to us when the fear is greatest, when the situation is worst. But He is there with encouraging words and a helping hand. 

In this Eucharist, let us offer to the Lord our fears.  Let his love touch our hearts and give us courage to confront the problems in our selves and in our relationships.  Let us invite Jesus to guide us as we cross through troubled waters and contrary winds. When we are filled with faith, the only important thing is to know that Jesus has done the impossible for us – walking on water – so that we too, can rise above our fears and experience the triumph of faith.