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Speaking to the Soul: Little Faith

Speaking to the Soul: Little Faith

Week of Proper 4, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 40, 54 (morning) // 51 (evening)

Ecclesiastes 5:1-7

Galatians 3:15-22

Matthew 14:22-36

When Jesus comes to his disciples by walking on a stormy sea, Peter has a surprising way of determining whether it’s really Jesus. The other disciples think Jesus is a ghost and react with fear, but Peter, perhaps collecting himself, asks Jesus to give him orders: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus obliges and says to Peter, “Come.”

Asking the Lord for commands and proving ourselves able to fulfill them is one way of showing our faith. But for Peter, this approach doesn’t work for long. Peter takes a few steps toward Jesus on the water, but then he perceives a strong wind, becomes frightened, and begins to sink. Only then does he show the real depths of his faith by crying out, “Lord, save me!” And right then, Jesus “reached out his hand and caught him.”

When Jesus then calls Peter, “You of little faith,” we might think Jesus is describing Peter’s fear and cry for help as unfaithful. But perhaps Peter’s lack of saving faith is most exposed in his requirement that Jesus order him around and empower him to walk on water like Jesus himself. Must Jesus prove himself to us by issuing authoritative commands and making us capable of the impossible?

Peter was most faithful when he identified forces that were too strong for him, when he recognized his own vulnerability to the elements, and when he responded to his fears by crying out and reaching for a helping hand. That’s a faith strong enough to pull us through storms and through our daily lives. There may be no more faithful prayer than “Lord, save us.”

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with adult formation and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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