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Lord, Save Me!

As a freshman in college, we were all required to take an English Composition Class.  Included in this class were short stories that we had to read, discuss, and tested on its significance and meaning to us.  One of those shorts stories was the “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane.  The story is of four men who are adrift in a dinghy and desperately trying to reach the shore.  The story includes their interactions with each other, their environment and human struggle against an uncaring natural world.

What made me think of this event that took place in the 2nd semester of my freshman year in 1974 was today’s Gospel.  I recalled many similarities as I read and meditated on each.

After feeding the 5,000, Jesus goes to pray on a mountain and tells his disciples to get into the boat and go before him to the other side.  Why would Jesus ask them to do this and how was he going to link up with them? 

The disciples do as Jesus tells them and are far out on the water battling with a heavy sea and fighting a strong headwind.  It is here we could see the Church itself, represented by the disciples in their fragile boat surrounded by hostile winds and waves.   The winds and waves could represent the turmoil of our world today and forces attacking Christianity, the Church, creating fear and anxiety.  A fear and anxiety the Disciples felt while in the boat!  Probably feeling, “all is lost”!

Suddenly, they see Jesus approaching towards them walking on the lake.  But they are not reassured, they become more terrified. “It is a ghost!” This is the Disciples superstitious natures and, as such, a measure of the long way they must go in exorcising such superstitions and replacing them with a genuine faith in God.

Out of the wind, waves and terror comes a comforting voice. “Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.The disciples need courage whose source is their confidence and trust in the protection of their Lord.

Peter responds, “If it is really you, Lord, tell me to come to you across the water.” “Come,” says Jesus, inviting him to leave the shelter of his boat and go to where the wind and waves are. Peter starts to make his way to the Lord, who is in the wind and the waves, but his fear is too much, and he begins to sink. “Lord, save me!” is the cry.  A cry echoed by Christians all down the ages who have felt that the world was ready to crush them.

With Jesus, there is never any need for fear and anxiety.  He is always close to us and, no matter what may be happening in and around us, his peace is there for us to share.

Finally, note that Jesus is not in the boat; he is in that hostile environment, the world, into which we often, at times, fear to enter and leave the feeling of the security of our Church.  Jesus is reaching out for us to go out of our boat, our comfort zone, into the stormy world and assisting and helping those caught in the stormy sea who need to hear the words of life.  

Jesus is always with us!  “Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.”

Blessings – Dcn Jim