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Faith Calms Storms
Saturday of the Second Week of Easter
When it was evening, the disciples of Jesus went down to the sea, embarked in a boat, and went across the sea to Capernaum. It had already grown dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.
The sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they began to be afraid. But he said to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” They wanted to take him into the boat, but the boat immediately arrived at the shore to which they were heading.
Opening Prayer: Lord, come to me as I begin this time of prayer. Calm my stormy mind so that I can recognize your presence in these words.
- In Context?: After feeding the five hundred, the Gospel of Matthew tells us Jesus “made his disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side” (Matthew 14:22). Jesus wanted to be alone to pray. Although John left this detail out, it makes sense that the disciples would have gotten into the boat only if Jesus insisted, telling them he intended to pray. They had seen this behavior before. Jesus often got up early, or stayed up late, to share some quiet time with his Father. What a witness Jesus was to them and to us. No matter how busy our ministry, no matter how needy the crowds, no matter what our collaborators say, we must make time for prayer. “Let the men eaten up with activity and who imagine they are able to shake the world with their preaching and other outward works, stop and reflect a moment… they would be much more useful to the Church and more pleasing to the Lord, not to mention the good example they would give to those around them, if they devoted more time to prayer and to the exercises of the interior life” (Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard, The Soul of the Apostolate).
- It Was Dark: Jesus prayed well into the night, leaving the Apostles in the dark, in a boat tossed about by waves. Of course, he knew their plight. Why did he wait until the fourth watch of the night (Mark 6:48) to make his presence known? When Jesus postponed his visit to Mary and Martha, it was to raise Lazarus from the dead—to work a miracle so resplendent that doubting souls might finally believe (John 11). When the woman with the hemorrhage touched his cloak, Jesus told her, “Courage daughter, your faith has saved you” (Matthew 9:22). The disciples in today’s Gospel “had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened” (Mark 6:52). Their faith needed a booster shot. Jesus was making it perfectly clear that he is master of the seas, and through his dramatically bringing them to safety their faith in him would be strengthened. In our own darkness, we can be assured that Jesus knows our plight, that his timing is perfect, and that he seeks only our good. No one relishes the darkness, but “this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
- No Fear: The Bible contains more than 140 admonitions to fear not, forty of them in the New Testament. Jesus’s disciples were afraid. Jesus knows our hearts are also anxious, that storms crop up to disturb our peace, that we struggle with strong emotions like anger, jealousy, and loneliness. In this instance, he approached the boat with the words, “It is I. Do not be afraid,” and so “They wanted to take him into the boat.” We too want to cling to Jesus in the storm and lay our problems at his feet. When we do, Jesus calms our anxious hearts, reminding us that he is enough. Our peace is restored.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, you speak to me about faith in these lines of Scripture. I see that my faith is weak. I beg you to strengthen me. Many of the ordinary daily stressors I experience are opportunities to grow in faith. I know that I can do all that you ask of me with peace and joy, if I only have faith in you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will say, “Jesus I trust in you,” every time I feel the least bit stressed.
For Further Reflection: The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you; you never forsake those who seek you, Lord (Psalm 9:10-11).
Written by Maribeth Harper.
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