There is an old saying that “seeing is believing”. Today’s readings turn that thing upside down. For when we hear about those events described in the first reading in the gospel we really come to realize that “believing is seeing”. In the days of Jeremiah, all that was witnessed seem to give perfect evidence to the fact that God was weak and unconcerned with the plight of the people of God. In the Gospels, the apostles see the miraculous activity of Jesus’ walking on the water, but rather than being inspired by faith, the disciples give in to despair. They believe Jesus is a ghost.
How easy it is in our own lives to give in to only what we see. I would suggest that we live in an age of materialism, not simply in the purchasing of material goods, but in the belief that anything that is really true, must be material, that is made of stuff that we can see and touch and experience. If we cannot see it, it must not exist.
This makes life quite difficult. For many moral decisions, it is not simply about what is seen, but about the deep quest of meaning. So many moral decisions are not guided by what we can see, but rather about attempting to discover what is the right course of action. They are not so much guided by the search for the truth, but rather are guided in an attempt that gets reduced to what’s good for me and no one else.
We see this reality over and over again in the events of our world. How many reduced the saga of the unaccompanied minors to the threat they might take things away from us? How many become afraid of the foreigner in the stranger, because we simply do not understand? And how many reduce religion to that fairytale that has no basis in reality?
In the first reading Jeremiah reminds the people that God will indeed be faithful to the promises made. It is Jesus who walks across the water to remind the disciples that he is always present. To view the presence of God in our own lives, in a way that makes a difference, requires persistence and perseverance. It requires a commitment to seeing the world not only in material things, but perhaps more importantly as a quest for what really matters, what really endures.