Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Completely Astounded

Wednesday after Epiphany

No one has ever seen God.  Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.  This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit. 1 John 4:12-13

But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out.  They had all seen him and were terrified.  But at once he spoke with them, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!”  He got into the boat with them and the wind died down.  They were completely astounded.   Mark 6:49-51

PATER noster, qui es in caelis, sanctificetur nomen tuum. Adveniat regnum tuum. Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo et in terra. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie, et dimitte nobis debita nostra sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem, sed libera nos a malo. Amen.

OUR Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

We like to be in control.  Just the other day I was talking to someone and we were comparing notes about why we did not like to fly.  Turbulence.  Altitude.  TSA.  Waiting.  I have been known to drive to business meetings as far away as Chicago just to be in control of my life more than I can be at airports, planes and in taxi cabs. 

The disciples were no different – they just did not have to contend with US Air or Southwest, BWI or Dulles.  The proverbial ground beneath their feet was shaking and the natural world was filling the disciples with questions.  How did all those 5,000 people get fed from five loaves and two fish (with leftovers to spare)?  How did that quality wine appear at the wedding after all the good stuff was consumed by the guests? 

What we read about today are the disciples – many experienced fishermen among the group – fighting the turbulent sea.  They should have known better than to get in a boat in those conditions.  But they did so anyway when instructed by Jesus.  This tells me that they are listening to what Jesus tells them to do.  However, the disciples are not (yet) at the stage where they understand why or how Jesus does what he does. 

For those scripture scholars among them, they have heard many times of God’s power over the waters. 

You still the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples.  Psalm 65:8

You rule the raging sea; you still its swelling waves.  Psalm 89:10

In this story, that power/control is expressed two ways.  First, when Jesus walks on the water and then when he calms the seas by joining them in the boat. 
However, until the disciples start to connect the dots will their eyes be opened to the “epiphany” that is Jesus.   Until that happens, the nature of this walk-on-water sign and other miracles completely escape some. 

We also learn that some are so threatened by these actions that their hearts are hardened.  Those are the ones who start to plot against Jesus while we are still basking in the glow of the Christmas and Carnival season.  Those with hard hearts pick up right where Herod left off with the Slaughter of the Innocents. 

God not only has control over the chaotic waters of the sea but also the seeming chaos in our lives (internally or externally as well as individually or collectively).

Stock market dropping 400 points in two days?  It might rattle the very foundation of your hopes for retirement.

Ice storm disrupting the trip to work and school?  It might rattle the very comfort zone of our routines as we try to slip back into those after the Christmas break.

A new class of cardinals given red birettas from the southern hemisphere and nations where there has never been a member of the College of Cardinals before?  It might rattle the powers that be in the Church and the curia.

A special Mass is celebrated Ad Orientem (“to the east”) with the canon prayed in Latin when you are used to Vatican II celebrations in the English vernacular?  It might rattle our personal sense of connection to the Eucharist and confront us with symbols that take us out of our comfort zone – just like the fishermen on a storm-tossed Lake of Gennesaret.

Whose will do you pray “be done” in the Pater Noster?  “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

The Advent and Christmas season has presented us with several different models of how people react to the near-ness of God.  Zechariah doubts.  Mary exults.  Herod conspires.  Shepherds watch.  Kings journey.  Disciples astounded and confounded. 

As we enter the “Carnivale” season (from Twelfth Night until Mardi Gras), how will you react to the near-ness of God?  Will you be astounded like the disciples in the boat?  If so, how will it change your daily walk? Or will your heart be hardened?  

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