Grace: An intimate knowledge of our Lord, who has become man for me, that I may love Him more and follow Him more closely.
Text: Matthew 14: 22-33
Reflection: Today Peter challenges the Lord to prove that he is who says he is. How is this different from Satan’s challenge to Jesus to prove that he is the Son of God? We heard that story at the beginning of Lent, how Satan took Jesus to the parapet of the Temple and said: “If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you’ and ‘with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ” (Mt 4:6)
Both Peter and Satan say to Jesus, if you are who you say that you are then prove it. But Peter’s challenge is a topsy-turvy one. He actually puts himself to the test. Peter says to the Lord, “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.” If it really is you, Lord, make me risk my life. Command me to do something that I can do only if my faith in you is strong enough. What he is really saying is: Lord, put me to the test!
This is precisely the same thing we want to say to the Lord in these Lenten Exercises. Lord, put me to the test! For nearly two weeks now, the prayers of this retreat have centered on the unavoidable choice that lies at the heart of following Christ. Will we stand with Christ under his standard, or will we let ourselves be drawn away from him by the subtle temptations of the Evil Spirit? We have been asking whether, in addition to this fundamental choice for Christ, the Lord is perhaps asking us to discern any other choices? Is he asking me to reform my life as a Christian this Lent? Is he perhaps even calling me to a particular vocation within the Church?
The prayers of these final days before Holy Week are particularly helpful in discerning what the Lord is asking of each of us in this retreat. What does the Lord say to you when you call to him from the boat? Does he tell you, like Peter, to “come!” What is your response? Does the Lord give you the grace to leap out of the boat? Do you cling nervously to the side, trying to decide what to do? Bring your question to the Lord and, if you feel so moved by the Spirit, ask him to put you to the test like Peter.
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
Psalm 139: 23
It is also good to pay attention to what else happens in this passage. Spend some time in the moment of stillness and calm before Christ comes walking across the waters. What is the experience of accompanying our Lord to that quiet place where he goes to pray, to rest on the breast of the Father?
As always, prepare yourself to come into the Lord’s presence by asking him to help you, especially to ensure that your intentions are purely in line with his. Then use your imagination to become present in the scene: what do you hear and see? Ask the Lord for the grace that you desire, which is intimate knowledge of him. And finally, let the Lord show you what he desires in his prayer to the Father and in the encounter on the water. Let him put you to the test.