Due to the aligning of the Sunday and weekday readings cycles this week, as well as my friary's lack of a Roman-Franciscan Lectionary, I got to hear Matthew 14:22-36 twice this week. The passage has been on my mind, especially in light of the religious profession of our novices last Saturday.
Professions are always inspiring. They always remind me of the simpler zeal and more bare desire I like to think I once had, before all the interior compromises and makings of peace with pet sins and lukewarmness that I have allowed to pile up in me over the years.
Matthew's account of Peter walking on the water is a great comfort to me in this regard. It doesn't matter that Peter falters in his journey from the boat to the Lord's presence. Crying out for salvation when he finds himself sinking, Jesus stretches forth his hand and catches him immediately. The Lord's call is fulfilled. Peter gets to Jesus on the water even though he doubts and slips, and maybe even because he does.
Two things matter in living the vocation we have received from the Lord.
First, that we answer and set out boldly. This is true not only in the great ceremonial moments of vocation, but also in our daily resolutions to be faithful. Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. He boldly set himself to doing something ridiculous, impossible, and unnatural. The world would laugh at you if you tried to walk on water, just like the world laughs at you if you decide to embrace the evangelical counsels, desire to become a consecrated celibate, or consent to give yourself in marriage until death. No matter. The Lord calls, so step out of the boat.
Second, when we slip, falter, and fail, we must call upon Jesus for salvation. His hand will be there.
Notice that such slips and failures do not compromise our vocation. In the end they don't really matter.
When it comes to the call given to each of us, God is not 'set it and forget it.' It's not as if God gives the grace of a vocation which we are then to execute with our own power, like some kind of agonistic project which God watches from afar, either approving or disapproving of how we've done with it. God is with us all the way, ready to have us bring the cry for salvation out of the misery of our sins. We're characters made up of desire for faithfulness mixed with faults and sins and stupidities, but it doesn't matter. We make it to Jesus across the water not because of us but because of him.