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Swimming To Jesus

We have all heard the saying “sink or swim”. It means to fail or succeed. Most of us have been in a sink or swim situation in our life at one time or another. In the Gospel for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Matthew 14:22-33) Peter is in such a situation. As the disciples see Jesus walking on water toward them, they become afraid. This particular Gospel is interesting, but you really should read the entire chapter. After being told of John the Baptist’s beheading, Jesus, seeking solitude, is followed by a large crowd. He performs the miracle of the multiplication of bread, much to the amazement of his disciples. After dismissing the crowds, he again seeks solitude for prayer before walking out on the sea to calm his disciples who were frightened by the waves caused by a strong wind. I can imagine that it was a long day for Jesus’ followers and they were overwhelmed by the day’s events. He ends the day with something remarkable. When we are in the midst of a rough time Jesus comes to us. He calms us and says to “take courage; do not be afraid”.

Often times we become overwhelmed and consumed with fear which takes our focus away from Jesus. Like Peter, we begin to sink. How far we sink depends on the amount of our faith and willingness to place our trust in the Lord. Jesus stretches out his hand and catches us. This is maybe where the lesson of “sink or swim” is helpful. It is like watching a child learning to swim. When he or she is paying attention to the instructor and looking toward that person with confidence, the child tends to do fine – first floating, then stroking, and then moving forward in a splashy swim. But just as soon as the child’s fright takes over, he or she automatically reaches out a hand to the instructor. Without the hand of the instructor, the child might sink. In the rough waters of life we need to keep our eyes on Jesus but it isn’t always easy. In our fear we doubt and look away from our Saviour. But Jesus stretches his arms out for us and like a child learning to swim, we grab ahold.