Both the psalm response and the gospel in today’s lectionary put the word “trust” front and center for our consideration. Four times Psalm 33 is interrupted with the refrain: Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you. It’s a statement of exchange, a bit of a challenge for God, it seems. If we trust God, God must be counted on to be merciful OR is it a “hoping against hope” situation where we close our eyes, grit our teeth and hold our breath hoping for a good outcome?
It would seem that the gospel (JN 6: 16-21) presents the perfect situation to illustrate the necessity of trust. Only twice have I been in a boat when a storm came up. Once was on a large cruise ship when the only danger from the wind stirring the water was a bad case of nausea for the majority of us. All we needed to do was stay in our cabins and wait it out. The other was at a smallish lake where we needed to get back to shore, rowing as the two of us had never done, before the storm broke. It was that second case that might be compared with the situation of the apostles in the boat. I wonder if our inner distress would have been increased or calmed by the presence of Jesus walking on the water toward us! He appeared to the apostles to be a ghost. Why would it be different for anyone in that situation – especially as he appeared in his “resurrection body” that seems from all accounts a detriment to recognition for all who encountered him?
Would his words (It is I. Do not be afraid.) have been enough? Are they enough for us to engender trust in situations of inner or outer distress? Saturday is sometimes the perfect day to give in to what we don’t expect and let our trust in Christ take us home.