In Matthew 14:22-33 Jesus sent his disciples to cross ahead of him over the Sea of Galilee; not a huge ocean, but a significant body of water nevertheless. Large bodies of water are unpredictable; sometimes they are calm and gentle, at other times they are turbulent and perilous. Our lives can be like that. We travel through this world fairly well-contained, in our boats, so to speak, and sometimes we are overtaken by great storms that shake us to our core. We travel through this mysterious world subject to many winds and changes. We wonder what this world is doing to us, and even more remarkably we often wonder what we ourselves are doing. We find ourselves subject to inner motivations and powers that are really totally unconscious. How often do we find ourselves asking, “Why did I say, or do that?” Life is so full of those regrets; we can truly say with St. Paul, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate.” (Romans 7: 15)
Just as Jesus sent his disciples into that unpredictable sea, he sends us into a very unpredictable world where we are to be messengers of His good news. When things are at their darkest and the storms of life seem as though they are going to overwhelm us our Lord comes to us; we know what that is like. He comes walking across the waters that would devour us and He may not calm the storm, but He calms our souls. He doesn’t still the waves, but rather He invites us to leave the safety of our tidy protected worlds and to step more deeply into the thick of things, to rise above our fears and the compulsions that seem to dictate our lives – He invites us to live!
Jesus was radically in touch with the inner presence of God and lived his life deliberately; he was always attentive and he was conscious of his choices. He invites us to truly be His disciples, to engage the world with integrity and with faith, faith that God will support us, with the deep inner knowledge that the perilous waters of life will not consume us. In practical terms, I think that it is safe to say that we all have triggers – if someone says or does something, or if something happens to us we have our normal reactions. Some of us turn into clams, we use the silent treatment; some of us are lions, we roar and attack – I’m not sure which is worse. But sometimes we are able to listen to that still small voice that dwells in our deepest heart and we can rise above our petty tendencies and actually do the right thing, we become peacemakers!
In whatever storm of life that we might find ourselves our Lord comes to us striding across the turbulent waters of life and invites us to listen to that still small voice and walk with Him. We may, like Peter find ourselves falling into the depths, but Jesus is always there with His strong arm to pull us up.
By Father Rex Hayes, Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Sermon Notes is a column by local religious leaders.