“The Stroll” was a popular song and dance of the 1950’s. The dance involved a group of people divided into two rows. One row contained men and on the other, women. Facing each other, the two rows moved simultaneously to the music. At the appointed time, each couple walked and danced between to two rows of partners. Everyone had an opportunity to express his or her vision of themselves to the joy and laughter of their friends.
In the Gospel today, Matthew shows us St. Peter’s walk. This episode is only found in Matthew’s Gospel and contains one of his favorite themes: “Grace conquers fear.”
As Jesus’ miracles increase so does the hostile response to Him. This unexpected reaction is confusing and frightening to the Apostles. Our Lord stands in the middle of humanity’s illness and sin without fear of contamination and for the emergence of something good.
St. Matthew is teaching us that Christians sometimes must leave security behind. It is in our nature to cling to some form of refuge, but Jesus is always with us. To follow Christ we must venture out into the storms of life and trust that the One who calls us, is calling us forward, just as He called St. Peter.
The storms of life are furious, strong and cause confusion. Sometimes, we let the storms drown out the voice of Jesus. In the First reading, only after Elijah ignored the elements of creation which were worshipped by other peoples, could he perceive the God of Israel.
While St. Peter was in our Lord’s presence and heard the summons, “Come!”, he still could not ignore the fury of the world. As a fisherman, he knew the danger of the water. He did not yet learn the power of faith.
Some today are drawn to the noise of the world. When we pursue power, wealth, fame or ego, we cling to idols that cannot give us life. When that occurs, we find ourselves in St. Peter’s company: followers of Jesus and recipients of His grace. With some practice, we can walk peacefully over the fury.
The CCD Teacher who volunteers to teach Sixth Grade Religion is walking on water. The college student who actively participates in the Newman Club performs works of charity on campus is walking on water. The parents who choose, against the advice of their doctors to give birth to a child with special needs are walking on water.
St. Peter’s brief walk led to the rescue of his companions. Our acts of faith, no matter how imperfect and sporadic, can also assist in the salvation of others. Let’s join St. Peter, and Stroll to Jesus.