Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. (Mark 6:45-52)
The world suffers. The pandemic rages. Hospitals are running out of beds. Front line workers are emotionally and physically exhausted.
Where is God?
The waters of life in 2021 are unchartered. In our lifetimes, we have not seen anything like this. We are not only physically spent; we are emotionally exhausted.
Why isn’t God acting?
Enter today’s Gospel. Shortly after the disciples saw Jesus multiply the loaves and fishes and feed thousands, they put out into a boat. The winds roar. The water threatens to capsize. They are terrified. They forget the miracle they had just seen. They wondered where was their God.
He was there at the moment they needed Him. He reassured their unbelief when they thought He was a ghost.
He says : I AM. The same words uttered by God to Moses at the burning bush.
Most of us are like the disciples. Our hearts may be filled with the love of God but our heads aren’t quite there because we keep asking: “Where is God.” C.S. Lewis referred to that as Putting God in the Dock … putting God on trial … demanding answers from Him … assuming that He must prove Himself to us! Why doesn’t He protect us better? Why doesn’t He help us sooner?
Where is God?
He is here. With us. As He always is.
These times make many of us feel that we are at the end of our own resources. The picture of the disciples “straining at the oars” is a good one for us. Some may even feel that we are in the storm and that God may even have abandoned us. it’s in these very situations that we learn something about Jesus.
The disciples, in this moment, failed to grasp how God had worked in the past, and apply that knowledge to their current situation. We’re left with the same test. If we understand that God has visited us in the person of Jesus, we can be assured of his presence no matter what we go through. We can have confidence in any storm that we go through.
We were not created to be inundated by the toxic pool of hate, the toxic pool of sinfulness, the toxic pool of a virus that drains our life.
We were created by God to live by faith, to immerse ourselves in the depths of his mercy, to adore him on land and on sea, to be strengthened by him and know that we’ve got nothing to fear because he is with us, even if we’re in the midst of ferocious storms.
St, John reminds us of the love that God has for us and inspires us to love God in return. “God is love,” he says, “and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us, so that we may have confidence on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world.”
Following Christ does not mean an exemption from suffering. Following Christ will sometimes lead us directly into a position of suffering and hardship. We should not be surprised to encounter those times. But again, St. John reminds us: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.”
We are created to be brought to perfection, to completion, in the love of God, which will help us to be courageous because it drives out fear. When we know God loves us and has triumphed even over death, we’re unafraid of anything, including dying.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord, may I never doubt your saving help and your ever watchful presence, especially in times of adversity. Fortify my faith with courage and my hope with perseverance that I may never waver in my trust in you”.
Jesus our Messiah is the One who truly sees their (and our) situation and willingly steps through the storm and on the surface of the sea to bring them peace and save their souls! He gives His word of authority. He gives His word of peace. “Take heart, I am He. It is me. I am in charge, just as you see! Now stop being afraid!” He doesn’t abandon disciples when they don’t get it! He never abandons those who just don’t seem to get it. Rather He graciously reveals Himself again and again!
That’s why He sends them out on the boat, why He waits, and why He walks by – to reveal Himself to the disciples who still didn’t get it … even after the feeding of the 5000. That’s why He comes to us again and again and again. To reveal Himself as the Lord and God of our salvation.