Tuesday, June 28, 2011

“What is it that renders death terrible? Sin. We must therefore fear sin, not death.”

Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear this sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who am your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything. Words of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego

Gospel text (Mt 8,23-27):
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?”

Try to imagine this scene from the Gospel playing out in contemporary times. With recent natural disasters in the world, I try to visualize Jesus standing in a shaking building during an earthquake, maybe even napping as the tremors start. As things fall around him and people become overwhelmed with hysteria, Jesus is calm and even exudes calm. People would think he is crazy for not reacting in the expected way. Instead he understands that the physical existence of the world is not where the most essential part of our existence lies.

I’m sure the disciples felt similarly, fearing that their life's journey would come to an end in the middle of the cold, lonely sea. The sea can be seen as our inner self, restless and unpredictable, even dangerous at times. While we inwardly are frightened of the terrible things, real and imagined, occurring in our lives, Jesus lets us know that our fear is not necessary.

And from embarrassment and fear the disciples shifted to admiration and astonishment, for they had witnessed this prodigy, unheard of until then. The surprise, the admiration, the wonder of such a drastic change in a situation they were living arose in them a central question: «What kind of man is he? Even the winds and the sea obey him» (Mt 8:27). Who can assuage storms on earth and skies and, at the same time, those in men's hearts?

St. Augustine said it well when he said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” When we place our trust in things that are not truly permanent (our boats, our buildings, our successes, our failures) we find that we stand on a platform that topples with the storm. But if we can find the calm Jesus talks of that comes from our love for one another, our spirits can experience smooth sailing.

Whenever we may be afraid the earth is collapsing under our feet, let us not forget that our Savior is God himself made man, and that He is always close to us.

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