Immediately, Jesus obliged his disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, toward Bethsaida, while he himself sent the crowd away. And having sent the people off, he went by himself to the hillside to pray.
When evening came, the boat was far out on the lake, while he was alone on the land. Jesus saw his disciples straining at the oars, for the wind was against them; and before daybreak he came to them, walking on the lake, and he was going to pass them by.
When they saw him walking on the lake, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But, at once, he called to them, “Courage! It is I; don’t be afraid!” Then Jesus got into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely astonished, for they had not really grasped the fact of the loaves; their minds were dull.
“There is no fear in love,” John tells us in today’s first reading. And why is this? Because, John explains, “perfect love drives away fear, for fear has to do with punishment; those who fear do not know perfect love.”
The key word in this sweeping statement of John’s is the word “punishment.” One would venture to say that 99% of Christians fear God—not Jesus Christ, whom they love dearly, but God the Father. And apparently for good reasons. This is because the Old Testament is replete with stories staging a God who gets angry, destroys entire populations (think of the Great Flood), kills women and children indiscriminately (think of the Holy Wars), and murders children with abandon (think of the Tenth Plague of Egypt). But such a God is a projection from primitive minds who knew no better. Such a God never existed. When Jesus came, he told us: “The Father judges no one” (Jn 5:22). And, therefore, God punishes no one. God is pure love. Period. And we have to purge our minds of all Old Testament texts which betray God’s heart.
At one point Jesus said: “Philip, who sees me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9). Did Jesus ever punish?
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