The faltering Church

"What does it mean that Peter dared to come to Jesus walking on the water? Peter often represents the Church. What else, then, could the text mean, 'Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water?'except this: 'Lord, if you are true and never lie, let your Church be made manifest in this world, because this is what the prophecy about you predicted?' Let it walk on the water, then, and so come to you.... But because human praise does not tempt the Lord, but men in the Church are often disturbed by human praise and honors and are near to drowning from them, Peter grew fearful on the sea, terrified at the great force of the storm. Who does not fear that word, 'The rich among the people will entreat your countenance'(Ps 44[45], 13)? And because the mind struggles against the lust for human praise, it is good in such peril to turn to prayer and entreaty so that anyone who is being buffeted by praise not be undermined by criticism and drown. Let faltering Peter cry out on the waves and say, 'Lord, save me!' The Lord stretches out his hand and although he rebukes him'O you of little faith, why did you doubt?' Why did you not look straight ahead at the one you were moving towards, why did you not boast only in the Lord?still he snatches him from the waves and because Peter admits his weakness and begs his help, he does not allow him to perish. The Lord is then taken into the boat, the disciples faith is confirmed and all doubt removed, the storm subsides, and they reach the safety and firmness of the shore, and they all adore him, saying, 'Truly you are the Son of God.' For this is eternal joy: truth manifest, and the Word of God, and the Wisdom through which all things were made, and his surpassing mercy are both known and loved." (Augustine, Sermon 75, 10; PL 38, 478)

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.

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