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Archive for December 1st, 2022


Mark 6:45-52: Stepping Into Surprise

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Ivan Aivazovsky: Jesus Walks on Water

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Yesterday we reflected with Matthew on our willingness to step out of the little boat of our lives when Jesus approaches us across the water. Today we visit Mark, who tells his story in clipped, precise sentences, but curiously includes this verse: He meant to pass them by. What might Mark be asking us to consider with these simple words?

When we find ourselves in turmoil we may feel as though Jesus has us passed by. When we cannot find our way out of darkness, we might believe that God has chosen to ignore us. When we look for healing that never comes, we may wonder where the Spirit has chosen to settle. In all of these feelings of abandonment we will be mistaken for God is always with us.

Seeing the apostles’ distress, Jesus climbs into the boat with them and says: Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid! Then Mark reminds us that even though they had witnessed his division of the loaves and fish for thousands of people: They had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened. Jesus does not condemn his closest friends and apostles when he sees they do not understand; but rather he steps into the boat to calm their fears.

Matthew (14:22-33) begins his recollection of this event by borrowing from Mark and then adds one of his special stories about Peter, the man who becomes the cornerstone of the church. Matthew affords us the opportunity to – like Peter – step out of the boat to walk toward the shimmering vision. He offers us the chance to step out of safety into the turbulent sea of life. He reminds us that when the waters begin to swamp the vessel, we may want to do the surprising . . . step into the uproar rather than hide quaking in the gunwales of the ship.

Advent is a time of praying, reflecting, preparing to step out into the turmoil. It is a time to put aside fears to tend to the truly eternal: time spent in pondering The Word in the form of scripture, thanksgiving shown for miracles already received and yet to be received; fidelity and constancy as the foundation of our lives, courage and fidelity leading us to serenity and trust in God. When we feel our boat rocking, rather than allowing our fear to take us over, we are heartened when we truly hear today’s story.

So let us pray: Advent is a time of wonder. Advent is a time of surprises. Advent is a time of being open to newness and outrageous possibilities. Advent is a time to step out of the boat in faith to walk – unbelievably and impossibly – on a surface which ought not support us.  Let us walk away from fear . . . toward the one who does not let us fall. 

During the storms, Jesus is really quite near, moved with compassion when he sees our suffering. Rather than cry out anxiously from our hiding place, let us step out of our little craft and out of our old habits. Let us step into something new, a freedom of complete trust in the hand of our maker, the hand that is always extended to meet us. Let us step into the surprise.


Adapted from a Favorite written on December 6, 2008.

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_walking_on_water

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