Daily Gospel Reflection – Memorial of Saint John Neumann, Bishop
Memorial of Saint John Neumann, BishopJanuary 5, 2022
Gospel: Mc 6:45-52
After the five thousand had eaten and were satisfied, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.
And when he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray. When it was evening, the boat was far out on the sea and he was alone on shore.
Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them.
But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out. They had all seen him and were terrified. *But at once he spoke with them, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” He got into the boat with them and the wind died down. They were completely astounded. They had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.
*United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Bishop Robert Barron
Friends, our Gospel today is the story of Jesus walking on the water. Water is, throughout the Scriptures, a symbol of danger. At the very beginning, the spirit of the Lord hovered over the surface of the waters. This signals God’s lordship over all of the powers of disorder.
In all four Gospels, there is a version of this story of Jesus mastering the waves. The boat, with Peter and the other disciples, is evocative of the Church. It moves through the waters as the Church will move through time. Storms—chaos, corruption, stupidity, danger, persecution—will inevitably arise.
Now during the fourth watch of the night, which is to say the darkest time of the night, Jesus comes walking on the sea. This is meant to be an affirmation of his divinity: just as the spirit of God hovered over the waters at the beginning, so Jesus hovers over them now. So he says to his terrified disciples: “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!”