I was reminded of something this week I already knew. Then, it was reinforced again in today’s Gospel.
On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples:
“Let us cross to the other side.”
Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.
And other boats were with him.
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat,
so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up,
rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?”
They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” (Mark 4:35-41)
The scene is rather dramatic. While it should be no surprise to us that Jesus has power over the winds and the sea, the real point of the story is the disciples’ lack of faith.
In addition to the storms of nature are the storms of our lives. On a very basic level, there are simply those days when nothing seems to go right, and we can easily get agitated or lose our sense of peace. On a broader scale, we are living at a time when there is a great unrest and divisions on many levels. Living in the midst of such tension can be quite disturbing.
A priest shared with a group of his brothers of his own recent experience of finding himself discouraged in the face of the challenges he was facing in his parish. He shared his frustration with a good friend one day who later called him back to say: “The reason you are discouraged is because you are focused on the storm around you, rather than on Jesus.”
Focusing on the storm seems to be a social pastime today. Discouragement is a natural result. The beginning of the cure is a renewed focus on Jesus Christ in order to find once again that interior peace which only he can give. When we are able to ‘surrender’ all things to Christ in faith, he has room to work by the power of his grace, and we have the freedom to understand better the means be which we are called to do our part to make our world a better place.
So, my friends, know that Christ is ‘in your boat’. Turn to him in faith and trust that he can bring you peace as well as understanding to embrace the realities of your life. In this encounter with Christ, we are also changed, much as the wind and sea were calmed. This is conversion. This is to be conformed more fully to Christ. This is to become the ‘new humanity’ which Christ makes, by which we become witnesses to Christ, and others come to know him.
Together, in Christ, we can make our world a better place by doing good and seeking justice. (see Isaiah 1:17) Let us keep our eyes fixed on Christ. (Hebrews 12:2)0