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Jesus, Calm My Storm
Memorial of Saint John Neumann, Bishop
After the five thousand had eaten and were satisfied, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And when he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray. When it was evening, the boat was far out on the sea and he was alone on shore. Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out. They had all seen him and were terrified. But at once he spoke with them, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” He got into the boat with them and the wind died down. They were completely astounded. They had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, all creation rests in your hands. Who am I that you are mindful of me? Yet in faith, I know that you are here with me. I know that you love me and desire my love. Jesus, I trust in your love, your mercy, your forgiveness. I trust in your goodness. I bring all that I am to you in this moment of prayer. Help me see my life through your eyes and open my heart to any change you ask of me.
- He Went Off to Pray: After a busy, demanding day, Jesus sent his disciples ahead on their own, and he went off to pray—alone. When we’ve had a busy day, and we’re tired, where do we turn? We might call a friend to help relieve all the demands on us. We might turn on the TV. Maybe we go for a run. How often do we first turn to Our Lord to review all that has happened, how we responded, how we’re feeling? Is God our first source of refreshment? Do we make time to be with Our Lord? The Catechism points out that “Many Christians unconsciously regard prayer as an occupation that is incompatible with all the other things they have to do: they ‘don’t have the time’” (2726). Of course, relationships are built on time spent together. To grow in our intimacy with God, we must spend time with him, talking and listening to him about the realities of our lives.
- He Meant to Pass Them By: The disciples did not recognize Jesus and were terrified at seeing what they thought was a ghost. Though Jesus meant to pass them by, he responded to their terror. He stopped and reassured them, “It is I,” and exhorted them to have courage and fear not before joining them in the boat. As we go through our daily lives, we may encounter things that frighten us, and it may be difficult to see God present in the challenges that we face. We may not know how to respond to what we are experiencing. Again, where do we turn? Do we cry out to God and listen to his reassurance? Jesus responded to the disciples’ fear. We need to do as they did—cry out so that we may also hear Jesus tell us to “take courage” and “fear not.” These are precious moments when we can grow in our trust and hope in the Lord. Imagine the feelings St. John Neumann must have experienced when, after completing his seminary education, his bishop told him that he would not be ordained because there were too many priests in Bohemia!
- The Wind Died Down: In this Gospel story, Jesus got into the boat, and the wind died down; Jesus calmed the storm. While our circumstances do not always change when we pray, Jesus, nevertheless, brings peace. He calms the storm within our hearts even if the externals of our life remain the same. He is in our boat! Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of that repeatedly: Christ is with us. Christ is caring for us. Christ will bring us through the challenges of our lives. St. John Neumann left Bohemia for the United States. Upon arriving, he met with the bishop of New York and was ordained in short order. His life is a story of continued reliance on Christ in the midst of many stories and trials, and he provides an example of perseverance in the mission through reliance on Christ.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, thank you for being with me in every moment of my day. Knowing that you are with me gives me the courage to look at the storms in my life, to see how you want me to approach them. As you calmed the storm, quiet the storm in my heart. I want to find that peace that only you can give. You are with me, and that gives me courage to look at how I live my life and make the changes that you ask of me. Give me the courage to take up the mission you ask of me out of love for you and neighbor.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will identify one area of my life in which I have been saying “no” to you and will take the first step in saying “yes.”
For Further Reflection: Reflect on the painting “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” by Rembrandt.
Janet McLaughlin and her husband, Chris, live on a mountain in rural northeastern Oregon. She puts her Masters of Arts in Pastoral Studies to work as she shares the beauty and importance of the lay vocation in her writing, speaking, and teaching on spiritual topics.
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