Sr. Gloria Agnes, MM, considers what it means to trust God in the midst of life's storms.
Our readings today show us that to follow Jesus we need to have deep faith and trust. The disciples in the Gospel demonstrate for us a key aspect of human nature: the desire to be always certain of our security. The disciples did not have that sense of security, even though they were in a boat with Jesus.
As I imagine the scene from today's Gospel, I picture the boat almost sinking in the storm. Jesus was asleep, probably exhausted after teaching the large crowd all day through parables. As a teacher, I can attest that teaching the whole day can be extremely physically tiring. While crossing the lake, Jesus took the chance to get some rest and fell asleep. As the storm intensified, the worried disciples woke him up and asked, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
When I was about 10 years old, my father and I travelled from one island to another in the Philippines. We used a small boat to cross the sea. Unfortunately, a big storm came and the calm and serene water turned into a very angry sea. Our small boat started to fill with water. My father told me to use the dipper and scoop the water from the boat so that it would not sink. He was very nervous because the boat had begun to sink and he didn’t know what he would do if the boat gave in to the storm. Although he was scared, my father asked me to pray so that the storm would stop. Unbelievably, after 20 minutes, everything calmed down. The wind stopped and the water became very still.
If we consider the state of our world today, we do not need to be in a sinking boat to understand what the disciples felt in that moment. The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken us all.
Maybe some of us are asking, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Some of us who have lost our loved ones might be asking, “Lord, where are you? Why did you allow this to happen?” It is hard. Jesus woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still.” Before turning to the disciples to ask, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” Jesus commanded the sea to calm down. He felt the fear of his disciples. Maybe he knew his disciples would not understand his questions when they were in the midst of great fear because of the violent storm, so he first calmed down the angry sea.
We can only understand the depths of our faith when we experience the storms of life -- when our boat starts to sink and we don’t know what to do. We have been shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic but it did not destroy us. It took us out of our comfort zones and led us to an unfamiliar place, and yet it did not take away our faith in God or our love for one another.
Above all things, this pandemic did not take us away from the love of God and of all creation. Today’s second reading says, “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” So, when the storms of life come, we need to remember that this, too, will pass away. We are called to keep praying and fix our hearts and minds on Jesus, and with the Psalmist say, “Give thanks to the Lord, God’s Love is everlasting.” Let us be the fountain of God’s love that heals our broken and wounded world.