Posts

Stormy Waters

shipstorm1How often amid life’s stormy seas do we feel like we are alone, abandoned by God? Our Lord is always in heaven and wherever that is, it doesn’t seem to be here where I am right now, at this moment, struggling with the demands of daily life. It is as though Jesus is away praying alone on the mountain, far removed from my woes. It can be difficult sometimes to live the hope we profess when we are on the verge of shipwreck.

The important point of today’s Gospel is that Jesus is not as far removed from us as we might think. This awareness of God in our midst puts a new perspective on those things that trouble us. Though the disciples did not know it, He had long since departed from the solitude of the mountain and was present with them in their struggles on the open waters. If this is so, perhaps a better question for us to ask might be why Jesus waits until the fourth watch of the night before He intervenes? A long, horrific night had passed for the disciples and it was almost at the break of day, when they were at breaking point themselves, when He decided to help. But why? St. John Chrysostom writes “Christ did not reveal Himself to His disciples until they cried out; for the more intense their fear, the more did they rejoice in His presence.”

Consider the difference between “rejoicing in Christ’s presence”, as Chrysostom puts it, and not hoping in Him. What difference does it make to us as Christians when we profess to believe in God, compared with many of our contemporaries who do not? It is the difference between Peter desperately clinging to life in a battered ship on a storm-tossed sea and his trodding underfoot the very waves that threatened to destroy him. Encountering Christ has the power to transform us in a very real way. It has to be this way. If our belief in God does not have any real life implications for the way we live then what is the point of it?

Jesus is the daybreak. The darkness of the night and the violence of the storm give way before the Lord who is peace. Where He is, there is hope. An awareness of Christ in our daily struggles and a deep belief that He alone can deliver us from them presents us with a new reality; a new mode of existence. Life takes on a new eternal significance. Loving Christ is not a guarantee that our voyage will be easy but it is a guarantee that when we are at the point of shipwreck, we have a safe harbour where we can hope to find refuge.

Gospel Reflection for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A (Matthew 14:22-33)

The Good News of Easter

unnamedToday is the day when we Christians rejoice as our Saviour has conquered death and sin. We take comfort in the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection, because in his resurrection we find hope.

Over the last few days we have experienced Jesus’ passion, as he was arrested and sentenced to death. We saw what looked like a certain defeat, and now we see Jesus bringing victory out of his defeat. This gives hope to all humanity as we struggle to overcome sin and imperfection in our lives. It can often seem when we look both at ourselves and our world that sin and evil triumph. Indeed, when we look at the last few days, where we sacramentally experienced the death of Christ, it is easy for us to imagine how the disciples of Jesus must have felt. It must have looked like sin and evil won.

For the disciples of Jesus, Good Friday must have felt like the end of the road. They were scattered, and one of their number – Judas Iscariot- had betrayed them. None of them could have known how things would turn out in the end. None of them could have understood fully that it was not the end of the road but rather the beginning.

This new beginning on the day of the resurrection changed everything. At the news the tomb was empty, hope stirred in their hearts. They ran to the tomb to find it empty. Instantly they believed the Lord was alive. They knew God had triumphed over darkness. They did not fall into cynicism but they embraced hope. We too are called to have this Hope. We too must learn not to become discouraged by sin and weighed down by evil around us, but to have a firm hope in God. We too must embrace the resurrection and have faith that no matter the difficulties we face God can and will triumph in our lives if we cling to Jesus.     

Overcoming sin and evil may look like impossible tasks, but when we see things from the vantage point of the resurrection, we realise that Jesus’ resurrection also looked like something impossible. Yet, the resurrection did happen, and because it happened, we can have faith that God always triumphs over evil. We can have faith that sin and evil are always defeated in the end by those who put their faith in the Jesus Christ.

Rejoice, therefore, in the Good News of Easter. God has conquered sin and death, and opened the gates to paradise.