O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
revive your Church in our day,
and make her holy, strong and faithful,
for your glory’s sake
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
My people would not hear my voice
and Israel would not obey me.
So I sent them away in the stubbornness of their hearts,
and let them walk after their own counsels.
O that my people would listen to me,
that Israel would walk in my ways!
Then I should soon put down their enemies
and turn my hand against their adversaries.
Those who hate the Lord would be humbled before him,
and their punishment would last for ever.
But Israel would I feed with the finest wheat
and with honey from the rock would I satisfy them.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Immediately Jesus had fed the crowd, he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’
Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. After the people of that place recognized him, they sent word throughout the region and brought all who were sick to him, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.
We live in an age where little seems certain. We negotiate and haggle our way through life. We hear and understand the rules and accepted practices of everyday existence but, when those rules and practices become inconvenient, we do our very best to manipulate them into a shape which suits our purposes. This attitude to living alongside others breeds doubt and scepticism. For many generations people have said: Seeing is believing. Today we consider ourselves to be more ‘worldly wise’. We caution each other against such a simplistic attitude. Not only do we not believe what we see, but we approach everything in our lives in a similarly ‘faithless’ way.
This attitude to life is not new, or course. We see an example of it in today’s reading. Peter has been alongside Jesus throughout his adult ministry. Peter has seen Jesus work miracles and heal those deemed incurable, just as he has heard his new teaching of the way we might all come into a closer relationship with God. And yet, despite this intimate experience and knowledge, Peter asks Jesus for proof of his ability and willingness to save the disciples from the adverse winds that were battering their boat on the Sea of Galilee. As Jesus offered comfort, consolation and security, Peter said: Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water. Despite everything Peter has seen, heard and experienced he opens negotiations with Jesus … So often, we fall into the same trap as Peter. We know that Jesus is calling out to us, we know the message he is trying to get across, and yet we only want a relationship with him that can be lived out on our own terms.
Jesus tells us that there are two overriding commandments by which we should live our lives. Both of those commandments demand a move from our self-serving attitude to one of generous and unstinting love. Jesus tells us that we must love God, and that we must love our neighbours. With such love comes faith: faith in God and all that he can and does do for us, and faith in one another. Our modern scepticism stands as a barrier between ourselves and God’s all-embracing love for us.
In today’s reading we are being urged to set aside our need for everyone, including God, to prove their worth to and for us. Instead we are being called to model the depth of faith that will show others the true worth of discipleship. We are being called, by Jesus, to take his outstretched hand and have faith that he will save us. We are being called to set aside our fear and uncertainty and join with those whose faith is stronger than our own in saying: Truly you are the Son of God.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray for the peace of God in the Church and in the world.
Grant to the Church the grace to be still and not to lose holiness by being too busy. Give her ministers grace to lead their people through the way of quietness into the presence of their Lord.
Speak through the tumult of the world: calm the strident noise of the powerful and the anxiety of the powerless. Have compassion on all who wander without direction, and guide them into the paths of peace.
Grant to us, in the pressure of our daily lives, the time to be still, to learn the wisdom that comes in silence. Help us to use our leisure well, so that we may have strength to help those whose lives are linked with ours.
We pray for the sick in body or mind, for the injured and the disabled, for those with emotional problems. Come to them with your healing power, relieve their afflictions and make them whole.
Have mercy on those who have passed over the waters of death and come to the shore of eternal life. Grant them the peace which this world cannot give and the light which never fails.
May our prayers be heard through Christ, the Shepherd of the lost.
Prayer for the week
Lord, may we live in faith,
walk in love,
and be renewed in hope,
until the world reflects your glory
and you are all in all.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.