Saturday, August 12, 2017

“Out of the Boat” by Diane Bayne

During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.  "It is a ghost," they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."

Peter said to him in reply, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come."  Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!"

Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, "Truly, you are the Son of God." (Mt. 14:25-33)

When you feel like you’re in the middle of a great storm and feel like you’re sinking into the deep, recall the prayer of Blessed John Henry Newman, known as the Anima Christi:

Soul of Christ, be my sanctification,
Body of Christ, be my salvation,
Blood of Christ, fill all my veins;
Water of Christ’s side, wash out my stains,
Passion of Christ, my comfort be,
O good Jesu, listen to me;
In thy wounds, I fain would hide;
Ne’re to be parted from Thy side;
Guard me, should the foe assail me;
Call me when my life shall fail me;
Bid me come to Thee above,
With Thy saints to sing Thy love,
World without end. Amen.

In “The Gospel of St. Matthew-Volume Two” section of his Daily Bible Study Series, William Barclay notes that, in the hour of the disciples’ need, Jesus came to them.  As Barclay points out: “In life, the wind is often contrary. There are times when we are up against it and life is a desperate struggle with ourselves, our circumstances, with our temptations, with our sorrows, with our decisions.  At such a time, no man need struggle alone, for Jesus comes to him with his calm clear voice bidding us take heart and have no fear. . . this story is the sign and the symbol of what he always does for his people when the wind is contrary and we are in danger of being overwhelmed by the storms of life.”  (p. 106)

Barclay concludes that, wherever Jesus Christ is, the wildest storm becomes calm.

In his letters, St. Francis deSales tells of a custom in his country.  When a farm girl goes to draw water from a well, before lifting the brimming pail, the girl always puts a piece of wood into it.  When he asked the girl why she did that, she replied, “To keep the water from spilling. . . to keep it steady.”  Writing to a friend, Francis told this story and added: “So, when your heart is distressed and agitated, put the Cross into its center to keep it steady.”

As we learn from today’s gospel, we can do nothing better in time of trouble than to focus on the Lord who is always close by and ready to calm the storms of our life.

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