The day had not started well. Cousin John, his mother had heard quicken in the womb, that first kick! Was dead. Dead. Herod Antipas had had him killed - for a lark, for a trick, to show off to his guests - and to a woman and a girl. And so he had reason to be disconsolate, and reason to be afraid.
He was not alone. No one would let him be.
Crowds gathered. They had heard the news. The Baptizer, the one who heralded a new day for Israel, had been executed. The powers of this world were strong. And so they came to Jesus. The new shepherd. The good shepherd. Can you feed us?
And maybe that is a miracle too. For he turned their hearts as he turned his own, from fear to faith. Dread walked the earth, but they were no longer afraid.
He did feed them - or rather, taught them that their Father did.
Sit down. And they sat down.
Share what you have. And they broke the bread, and shared it out.
And soon all were well fed.
Jesus’ disciples were exultant. They were released from anxiety and felt ! like ! kings !
So off they went, rowing as they had rowed before, this time with a miraculous catch on land, and a good star to guide them. Singing they rowed and sailed, see you later, Jesus.
He was ashore. Alone. Silence, in the breeze. And he went up the hill. Maybe on top he’d recall the blessings he’d once preached there, the happiness of the poor, the blessedness of those who seek God.
Quiet, and remembering. And then, full of his Father’s new sense of purpose, he left off grieving, and sought out the others, his friends.
They were out on the sea by now. And they did not expect him to come to them as he did.
Remember John the Baptist was just dead. Fearsome forces were at work. And now like the ghost of Banquo or the spirit of Hamlet’s Father, a figure came to them - across the water.
It’s me, boys. Don’t worry.
Gathering up his courage Peter called: if it is you, call me to come to you. (No ghost would do that, right?)
And Jesus said, what he always said: Come.
What is there to do but follow?
And out on the water he came, Peter came, Rock of the Disciples, faithful … to a point. The wind was sharp and he felt it cut through his warm heart.
Jesus, save me!
And Jesus did. What he always did … to a point.
The wind dropped at last. You really are God’s Son, aren’t you? And they were no longer afraid.
Did anyone see last week’s headline? Remember it? The Economist had: Venezuela in Chaos.
Chaos. Fear. A world of disorder.
It is the Lord, it is God, who moved, his Spirit like a breath upon the waves, as he ordered the chaos at the beginning of Genesis. It is God, who moved, his voice like the sound of sheer silence, as Elijah waited in the cave. It is God, who came, walking on the water, stiling the chop and quelling the storm.
It is now … that time. The always-time. When the ways of this world and its rulers are not enough.
And so we turn to God, again. For peace. We shall listen to what the Lord is saying. Words of peace and not of fear. Righteousness and peace shall kiss each other, and this world’s woes will be brought to an end.
Tenth Sunday after Pentecost