Yesterday was a small but mighty burst of Christ for our group. I was told to report that we spent much time “lovin’ on each other”. What is more Christ-like than that? We had a birthday to celebrate, and LOTS of babies coming into the world through our empowered home-schooling moms with clans of four or five kids, and babies on the way. It is invigorating to be around so much life, and watch the way these amazing moms give such attention and love to each one of their precious ones. What a blessing.
We did, of course, take a few moments to reflect on the upcoming Sunday’s gospel. In Matthew chapter 14:22, we begin by hearing that Jesus had just fed the crowd, and then sent the disciples off in a boat, so he could go to prayer. Reflect on the fact that the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes (Jesus fed FIVE THOUSAND people with five loaves of bread and two fish, with twelve baskets of food left over) had just preceded this scenario:
The Walking on the Water.22 Then he made the disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. 24 Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. 25 During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. 27 At once [Jesus] spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” 28 Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw how [strong] the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 After they got into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”
Always with thanksgiving and credit to the Holy Spirit who guides us through our Encounters with Christ, the following lights were given to us regarding this passage:
- Jesus, having just attended to the needs of the hungry crowd by miraculously feeding them with little provision, understands the very human side of his followers. He meets the human needs in the disciples in the same way when they call out in fear at the sight of his figure walking across the water. He understands how we lose our peace quickly and easily, even after watching such a miracle take place. How can we keep the externals from entering into our sacred place of peace where we find Christ. We must be aware of the way we can be easily upset by fears and keep remembering the miraculous way he works in our lives.
- The book “When Jesus Sleeps: Finding Spiritual Peace Amid the Storms in Life” by Luis M. Martinez was referenced. How can we hold on to our peace when things are hard? We must remember that Jesus may seem inaccessible or not present when things get tough, but the kind of rest that seems to occur on his behalf is not like our own sleep or rest. Perhaps he is in a restorative place, working with the angels, gaining graces for us, and letting us grown in our own faith and the strength of those graces. We must stay rooted in prayer when difficulties arise in our lives.
- Recognizing the concept that “When we are at work, God is at rest. When we rest, God goes to work for us”. The understanding that my act of faith in God, my hope and trust in Him, is more powerful than trying to manage all of my problems out of my own strength and resources. When I let God take over in my life with a sense of faith and trust, He will fight my battles for me. I can remain at peace in my confidence for Him.
- Peter’s reaction to witnessing YET ANOTHER miracle from Christ as he walks across the water gives him courage to call Jesus to yield another courageous act by calling Peter, a mere human, to walk on water as well. Peter, has the faith and guts to give it a try, only to find like most of us, the inner voice of doubt saying “you can’t do that”, when he begins to sink. Christ once again, calls us to faith and deny fear.
I am an avid peace-seeker, especially being the overly-sensitive type, it often evades me. I have read several tips that actually do work and many of them were given to us by the saints:
- St Padre Pio: Pray, hope and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.
- St John Paul the Great: “I plead with you never, ever give up on hope, never doubt, never tire, and never become discouraged. Be not afraid.”
- St Teresa of Avila: “If any bad thought comes to you, make the sign of the cross, or say the Our Father, or strike your breast, and try to think of something else. If you do that, the thought will actually be winning you merit, because you will be resisting it.”
When a doubt springs into your head, just say an act of faith or the name of Jesus out loud. “Jesus, I trust in you”. Or “I reject that thought in the name of Jesus.” We can also rely on calling on some of our best saintly friends to help us pray for a special intention, as was our case study.
A family making some decisions to better their home life, decided to home-school their children. Within the same year, the husband was dealing with a job that extremely negative. His wife knew his pain as they would talk on his way home from work, where he was depleted, depressed and discouraged. On his arrival home however, he burst into the front door with great excitement to see his family, shouting the name of each child excitedly to receive his hugs and kisses. His wife felt it was no less than heroic of him to bury his discouragement and put on a face of bravery for his family. Shortly after they decided to take some financial risks and start an exit strategy that would allow for him to leave his job and start a new line of work. They decided to pray a novena to St Joseph, the worker, and earthly father of Christ, who would surely understand their situation. After the novena ended, out of the blue, a friend from church, ironically named Joseph, called with a job opportunity which worked out in every way to replace the position which had taken so much away from this young father over the past year. They have begun a new phase of life with their family, and when the baby is born, if it is a boy, will be named Joseph.
The act of faith and trust in Jesus and his saintly friends has for centuries been a practice of devoted Catholics. Since the beginning of the church. It is the saintly persons who persevered in faith, and set for us the example of what it is to live in an intimate relationship with Christ and his church.
Suggested resolutions for this coming week:
Spiritual: Profess the name of Jesus when a doubt or fear pops into our head.
Apostolic: Ask a friend or someone in need if you can be an intercessor in prayer for them when they need spiritual encouragement, as our saintly friends do for us.