The Storm At Sea

Written by Sr. Rosemary, O.P.
Readings from:

Martin Luther King Jr. tells this story in his autobiography.  He was in Montgomery, Alabama and the phone rang late one night. When he answered, an angry voice said, “By the end of the week, you will be sorry you ever came to Montgomery.” He says in his book, “All my fears had come down on me at once. I got out of bed and began to walk the floor. Finally, I went to the kitchen and heated a pot of coffee. I was ready to give up. I tried to think of a way to move out of the picture without appearing to be a coward…. When my courage had almost gone, I determined to take my problem to God. My head in my hands, I bowed over the kitchen table and prayed aloud. The words I spoke to God that midnight are still vivid in my memory:

‘I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But now I am afraid. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they too will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I have come to the point where I can’t face it alone.’

“At that moment I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never before. It seemed as though I could hear the quiet assurance of an inner voice, saying, ‘Stand up for righteousness, stand up for truth. God will be at your side forever.’ Almost at once my fears began to pass from me. My uncertainty disappeared. I was ready to face anything. The outer situation remained the same, but God had given me an inner calm.”

In our gospel today, the disciples were caught in a storm and they were scared to death. The sea was a scary place.  There are two points we can remember from this story.

First, they were out in this storm, not because they were doing something stupid, or they weren’t listening, but because they were following Jesus. The first verse says, “As Jesus got into the boat, his disciples followed him.”

Jesus had been healing people, talking and ministering to them all day, and he was probably tired.  He got into the boat and the disciples got in with him because he asked them to join him.  A storm rose up for them, like it often does for us.  We can remember when that happens to us, that whatever storm we’re in, Christ is with us too.

Secondly, the storm came up without warning. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a little warning the next time a storm came up in our life? That never seems to happen however.

When the storm appeared, the disciples ran to the back of the boat to find Jesus asleep. They screamed out, “Lord save us! We’re going to drown!”  For them, it’s sheer survival. We know what happens next.  Jesus looks at the disciples and says, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” He was asking them “Who or what do you really trust? What are you holding on to?”  He’s asking us, too, that no matter what, to trust nothing more than Jesus himself.  My nephew has a little plaque in his house which says:  “Fear not tomorrow.  God is already there.”

So today, let’s first thank the Lord who has promised never to leave or forsake us. And then, as difficult as it is, perhaps we can thank him for the storms in our lives which have the potential to drive us closer to him. May we have the courage and strength to learn to trust Christ with our whole hearts, minds and souls.