As I was thinking about today’s readings, especially the Gospel about Peter and his walking on water and his sinking into the water… my thoughts went back to 2012 and the funeral Mass of Bishop Joe Estabrook – where Bishop Hubbard shared a personal story about a conversation he had with Bishop Hubbard about his appointment as Bishop in 2004.
In that conversation, Bishop Estabrook shared with Bishop Hubbard his Episcopal Motto – “Set out into the Deep” (but in Latin). To which Bishop Hubbard shared that his Latin was not what it used to be, and asked Bishop Estabrook for the translation. Bishop Estabrook responded, “I’m in over my head.”
Well, aren’t we all in over our heads at least some of the time, if not most of the time? Of course we are! But when we remember that God is with us, we seem to meet the challenge. As long as Peter kept his eye on Jesus, he walked on water, but when his eye was not on Jesus, he began to sink in the water and was “in over his head.”
Bishop Estabrook died at age 67 having been diagnosed months earlier with pancreatic cancer. Bishop Estabrook’s response to the diagnosis was one of calmness, which made the young doctor he was seeing a bit concerned. Bishop Estabrook’s response to the concerned doctor was, “faith and fear cannot live in the same space. It’s eventually got to be one or the other. The Lord has put me here, and it is up to me to go where he wants, in the way he wants.”
Bishop Estabrook felt we are not alone in our struggles and that through them, when entered into with Christ, we make Christ present to others. No one can tell us how to cope with the waves, the storms, the challenges, the struggles of life. We can face them with either faith or fear.
Whether health or ill, our world is in desperate need of witnesses to the possibility of living Gospel values. Our God is not asking us to walk on water, but to live like we believe that God’s love for us and in us is more powerful than anything and everything.
May we take on the storms of our days with faith, hope and love.