The gospel depicts an extra-ordinary, supernatural, occurrence. Jesus, in order to reunite with the disciples, who were fishing, came walking toward them on the water. Naturally, it frightened them, and probably for a moment their concern about the winds and wave became secondary. Peter, forever the impetuous disciple, responded to the presence and the words of Jesus by putting it into the mind of Jesus that he could walk on the water to Jesus. Just as Jesus could walk on water, it appears Peter thought that by the same power he could do it too. He took seriously the words of Jesus “Take courage … do not be afraid”. And so, he climbed out of the boat and walked toward the Lord. He actually did it! All of a sudden, he felt the force of the wind on him, became frightened and sank. But, Peter began to think “This can’t be happening. I can’t walk on water!” Doubt entered Peter and he could not do what God called him to do.
In our human condition sometimes the same can happen to us. God calls us, or blesses us, or we experience in a dramatic way His love or His forgiveness – and our initial response is happiness, peace and joy. But unfortunately, sometimes we may then, like Peter, wonder whether our thoughts and experience are real or an illusion. Our doubt causes us to falter and slip back into negative feelings or unworthiness, fear, or failure. Then we shout out, like Peter, “Lord, save me!” and the same Jesus says to us, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” In one way, we had it all, and then in a moment of weakness we ruin it all by our own doubts. We begin to only see with our human eyes, and think with our human reasoning and criteria, rather than to see with the eyes of faith and to discover and accept God’s reasoning and God’s criteria. Our lack of willingness to embrace the ways of God can keep us from experiencing His presence, and from doing His will. He says to us “Take courage … do not be afraid”. If we are responding to His grace He will not allow us to sink.
They say that hindsight is always 20/20. Sometimes only later do we recognize and understand why things happened, or how we responded (or did not respond), and the consequences of that. Only in hindsight it seems the pieces of the puzzle come together and we understand. Once again, we tend to think and feel according to our human criteria – our way, and thus only respond in a human way. In our relationship with God, however, we are challenged to think and feel according to God’s criteria – God’s way, and thus respond in a supernatural way. Perhaps as we look back we can truly say “Thank God!” and see how God surprised us, as He did Elijah. Or, perhaps we look back and recognize lost opportunities for ourselves and others where we allowed fear and doubt to overtake us. This feeling cut off the grace of God for us at that moment, and we limited the power of God. God’s power knows no limits, but we can limit the power of God.
The life of Bogdan Jański revealed that power of God. Sometimes, despite ourselves, God acts in and through us. In seeking to do God’s will we open ourselves to His abundant grace. We, too, can have our own experience – in our own way – of walking on water, doing something despite all odds! Jesus assures us, “Take courage … do not be afraid”.