January 6, 2021 (readings)
- Wednesday after Epiphany
- Kai Leal
Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, please grant me a listening heart as I enter into this moment of prayer. May I be attentive to your word and to whatever light you wish to impart to me today.
1. “Take Courage! It Is I”: The disciples had good reason to be afraid—it was a dark and stormy night, and they were in real danger of perishing. No wonder they didn’t recognize Jesus when he approached them! But instead of scolding them for their lack of faith, Jesus reassured them by announcing himself and telling them to take courage. Perhaps we also have experienced storms in our lives, moments of great fear and anxiety where we feel like we’re barely staying afloat. During these moments, the Lord addresses to us the very same words that he said to his disciples: “Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.”
2. The Peace of Christ: According to the Gospel, the wind died down the moment Jesus climbed onto the boat. His mere presence was enough to calm the storm that had terrified the disciples so much. When we welcome Christ into our lives, one of the first gifts that he gives to us is peace—the peace that the world cannot give (John 14:27), a peace that stays with us even amidst the greatest storms. As Christians, we always have the opportunity to experience this peace, so long as we allow Christ to climb onto our boat and join us on life’s journey.
3. Christ Softens Our Hardened Hearts: The disciples had witnessed two great miracles that day: first, the multiplication of the loaves and fish, and second, Jesus walking on water. And yet the Gospel says that they were not able to understand the significance of these miracles because “their hearts were hardened.” During difficult moments in our lives, we might feel the temptation to harden our hearts in order to protect ourselves from pain and suffering. We might become so overwhelmed by our own anxieties that we are unable to perceive or understand the miracles that Christ might already be performing in our lives. But as Our Lord says in Ezekiel 36:26, he can remove our “hearts of stone” and give us “hearts of flesh” so that we can remain open to him in faith, hope, and love, even in the midst of the most difficult trial.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, thank you for being with me during the storms that have passed in my life. Come into my heart today, that I may experience your peace—the peace that the world cannot give, and that no one can take away.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make a simple act of trust (“Jesus, I trust in you.”) whenever I encounter a trial or difficulty.
For Further Reflection: Another Gospel passage where Christ imparts his peace to his disciples is John 14:27. Read through it slowly and meditatively during a moment of prayer.
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