Tuesday Gospel Reflection written by Sr. Rosemary Finnegan, O.P.
Readings from: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080222.cfm
A few years ago, when I was visiting my family in Chicago, an event was happening downtown for 3 days that was all over the news. The 2nd sequel to the action packed, adventure movie “The Transformers” was being filmed on famous and busy Michigan Avenue, right in the heart of the city.
My interest was piqued, so I ventured downtown to see how they did this. I joined the group of spectators, and we were told to go to the other side to watch from there. They shut the street down for 3 blocks near the Chicago River, raised the bridge, and had crashed cars strewn everywhere…one was even dangling from high atop the raised bridge. I did learn a movie secret: all those huge chunks of cement that appear on sidewalks after an explosion, are really styrofoam painted gray.
I thought about that experience when I read our gospel today. As we heard, it’s the familiar story of Jesus telling the disciples to get into the boat and go “to the other side” while he stays behind and prays. The boat then is tossed about by the waves and wind. In the middle of the night, Jesus comes toward them walking on water. They’re terrified, of course, and cry out in fear. Jesus tells them not to be afraid. Peter, at Jesus’ invitation, steps out of the boat and starts to walk towards Jesus. We know what happens then. Peter becomes terrified of drowning, and cries out for help. Jesus puts out his hand and loving says to Peter: “Oh, you of little faith, why did you doubt?” It was only then that the disciples said their profession of faith: “Truly, you are the Son of God.”
So what’s the connection between this gospel and the filming of the movie? I thought about the movie title, “The Transformers”, and the fact that I was not one of the ‘transformers’. I was just a spectator who was asked to “go to the other side” and merely observe the action.
Jesus, however, invited the disciples in the boat to “go to the other side”, because he wanted them to become transformers, not spectators. He wanted them to go from fear to faith, from doubt to trust. He wanted them to become people of action, people whose hearts would be changed, and who in turn would bring the kingdom of God to life.
We’re not so different from those disciples. We know that even though we’re followers of Christ and attend beautiful rituals, that sometimes we’re just spectators and not transformers. Life presents us with great challenges which cause us doubt and fear. In those moments, Jesus asks us, like he did the disciples: “Do you not yet have faith?”
He’s inviting us again to trust in God. Will we answer like a ‘spectator’ whose faith is inactive, or like a ‘transformer’ who “goes to the other side”, completely surrendering our hearts and lives to God, and placing our hand in Jesus’, like Peter did.