"If it is you, command me to come to you on the water" (Matt 14:27).
The dramatic story of Jesus walking on the water and Peter stepping out of the boat to go to him reveals the multi-layered richness of the Evangelist Matthew, who records frequent lake crossings, a clue that this is about more than boats and water.
Jesus is preparing his disciples for the faith they will need after his death. He will be swallowed up in the night waters of death in his exodus from this world. But they will see him again, not as a ghost, but as the Risen One, appearing to them from eternity and showing them how to live in between this world and the world to come.
The lake crossings are preparing them for the paschal mystery -- their new life in the pattern of Jesus' death and resurrection. They will find that in faith they can walk on the waters of death and not drown, as living witnesses to the life of grace here and now. The church -- the boat -- will face many storms, but Jesus will always be with them, even if he seems to be asleep (see Matt 8:24).
Peter, the leader of the church, gets a personal lesson in how to walk on water. Keep your eyes on Jesus and you will not sink. Faith will hold you up in any crisis, each step of the way.
Matthew also links these crossing stories with the multiplication of the loaves miracles. The early Christian community experienced the presence of the risen Jesus when they met for Eucharist. These Gospel stories are about both the mystery of Jesus and the emerging faith of believers in a time of persecution (storms).
These stories are meant for us. Faith in the risen Christ means asking Jesus to summon us to walk with him on the waters of death. If we take that first step and keep our eyes fixed on him, we will never be abandoned or lost.