Thursday, August 14, 2014

Don't let fears sink your ship

By Father Benjamin Alforque, MSC

In Matt 14:22-33, Jesus is seen sending off the disciples in a boat to the other side of the lake. He then also dismissed the crowds. When he was alone he went up to the mountain by himself to pray. In the early hours of the new day, he came walking on the waters towards the boat where the disciples were. Apparently the disciples were not afraid of the tossing sea; but they were afraid of ghosts: they thought he was a ghost walking on the water. Jesus had to assure them that it was he, and there was no cause for fear.

Peter, who always makes the first excited move, but almost always in a wrong way, volunteered to come to Jesus on the water. Notice: he asked Jesus to command him to walk on the water; not to command the water to let him walk on it towards Jesus. Jesus did as Peter asked him; but when Peter began to be afraid of the strong wind, he began to sink. Again, we take note of this detail: Peter did not notice the water tossing, because he was able to walk on it. But he noticed the strong wind above the water, and that he feared. Only then did he begin to sink. Thus: he was not afraid because he was sinking; rather, he began to sink because he was afraid! Jesus saved him by extending to him his hand, catching the sinking Peter. He pointed to his little faith that produces doubt. The wind ceased when both entered the boat; and those in the boat knelt down before Jesus, proclaiming: Truly you are the Son of God.

Friends, The Dawn of the New Day has come: Jesus. Jesus prays to the Father and gets the strength from him in his mission and care for the Church. He comes, bringing in the new day, full of grace and blessing. On the other hand, humanity continues to seek him. They bring to him the prayers each early new day. The disciples, the Church, under the leadership of Peter, the Popes, have always sailed in the rough waters of challenges and trials. They would falter, and begin to sink, if their sights and senses were only focused on these problems. For apart from Jesus, they , we – the Church – cannot save themselves, we cannot save ourselves. Only by being with Jesus, who has promised us that he will always be with us, and who always stretches out his hand to us, would we be saved in a stilled and silenced world. Jesus, the Lord of the tempests, will never abandon us, the ship of Peter, the Church.

Be Not Afraid! Yes, how many times have we doubted, singly or collectively, the power of God and his mercy and steadfast love in times of troubles and difficulties. We often forget that he is always with us through thick and thin every moment of our lives until forever! In these times of forgetfulness, we vacillate. We only hear the strong winds and feel the stormy sea, and forget that Jesus is with us. Is the boat sinking? No! Tossed by the waves of indifference, injustice, violence and war? Yes! We are persecuted but we are not forsaken! With Jesus, we need to pray to the Father. With Jesus we need to navigate in the stormy seas of human history. If we fear, we will falter and sink. But Jesus is with us always. Therefore, there is no reason to be afraid!