In the liturgy of the word of today’s Mass, we have two beautiful examples of very short, very sincere, very anguished prayer addressed by people in dire straits to God our Father.
In the first reading, Moses’s sister, Miriam, is being punished for her criticism of Moses whom God has appointed as leader of the entire Hebrew people. Her punishment is that she is stricken with a skin condition which was called leprosy in those days and had all sorts of medical as well as social consequences, since anyone in that condition had to be expelled from the community for fear of contagion. When Moses saw what had happened to his sister, he cried out to the Lord in deep anguish: “Please, not this! Pray, heal her!”
Then in the gospel, Saint Peter is in his fishing boat at night on the lake of Galilee. A squall comes up. Jesus, who had been on shore, comes to his disciples in the boat, walking on the water as if it were solid ground. They are terrified, thinking that they are seeing a ghost walking on the water. But Jesus calls out to them, “It is I. Don’t be afraid.” So our good impetuous Saint Peter calls out to Jesus, “Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come to you across the water.” Our Lord replies very simply, “Come!” So Peter climbs out of the boat and begins walking toward Jesus on the water. But suddenly he notices the wind increasing, and also must have realized that he is doing the impossible: he can’t walk on water! And so he becomes very fearful and begins to sink. And he cries out: “Lord, save me!” Just that: Lord, save me!
We all have our little crises in life—our moments of fear, confusion, indecision. And all we need to do is to turn to Our Lord and say, from the depth of our problem, “Lord, save me!” No fancy or well-composed speeches; no beautiful prayers that we found in some prayerbook. Just: Lord, save me! Lord, give me your hand! Lord, I need your help! Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.