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Jesus Asleep in Your Boat
Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr
As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. The men were amazed and said, “What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?”
Opening Prayer: Lord, I come to you today to give you thanks for all the blessings in my life. Please help me to remember that, no matter how dark this life gets for me, you are always in my boat and always ready to restore calm in my heart.
- In the Darkest Times, Pray: “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” comes from Psalm 130 and is a de profundis prayer: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications” (v. 1-2). Psalm 130 is the official prayer of the Church for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. It is the prayer offered at the darkest times of our lives, when we feel completely powerless to help ourselves. Jesus sleeping in the midst of a storm is a very powerful image of God’s sovereignty over even the darkest times in our lives. St. Therese of Lisieux used to meditate on this passage in times of inner confusion or darkness. Yet she wouldn’t wake the Lord. For her, it was enough just to sit beside him as he slept.
- Yet You Are There: Notice that Jesus said “O you of little faith.” These men had faith, but it was just too little. Their faith, like ours, grows only when it is tested. The Father knows what we need even before we ask. Jesus is always with the Father, and that reality is the key to peace in the storms of life. Do we believe that the Father will not try us beyond our strength? Do we believe that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains? Lord, please increase our faith.
- The Power of Jesus: Just before this passage, in Matthew 8, Jesus cleansed a leper, healed a centurion’s servant, and healed many at the house of Peter. He was truly a physical healer. Here, we also saw his power over nature; even the winds and the seas obeyed him. Yet, all these healings pale in comparison to his power to heal us from the worst affliction of all and the only one that matters: sin. Jesus came to take away sin by becoming sin and crucifying it on the cross, in his very person. He paid a price we couldn’t pay for our sins that he didn’t commit. There is no greater love–and no greater power–than the power of Jesus Christ, the only son of God. The Gospels of Mark (4) and Luke (8) also tell their version of this calming of the storm at sea. In his famous painting of “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee,” Rembrandt depicted this scene in all its terror. When we imagine ourselves in the scene, how do we react?
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I know you are with me in all the storms of my life. I know that you will never leave me orphaned. Help me to cry out to you in desperate times. Lord, I believe. Increase my faith.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray with Psalm 130 and, if possible, commit it to memory.
For Further Reflection: View the famous Rembrandt painting of “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” online and ponder Jesus always being in the boat of your soul.
Janet Scanlan is a lifelong Catholic, wife, mother, and grandmother, who is passionate about helping people know and live the love of Christ through marriage ministry, evangelization, writing, and work as a spiritual director.
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