Note: These Sunday & Holy Day Gospel Reflections are written so that mothers may prepare for Holy Mass in advance either as a small group or individually (especially since we are so often necessarily distracted during Mass itself).
On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples:
"Let us cross to the other side."
Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.
And other boats were with him.
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat,
so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
"Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?"
He woke up,
rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!"
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, "Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?"
They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
"Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?"
Once again, I am with the disciples on this one. The level of faith that Jesus expects of his disciples, and us, is phenomenal and terrifying all at the same time. These high expectations knock me right down whenever I start getting proud thinking my faith is strong. Don't get me wrong; I know high expectations work. They work with children, and I guess, God knows they work with adults, too.
God does expect us to have incredible faith, even as everything is falling down around us, that He will do what is best for us. A friend recently commented to me about the number of tragedies in Catholic families she has known over the past several years (mostly sad deaths of young mothers, strong fathers, and innocent children). She expressed concern that we are under attack in these ways. I agreed with her that these strong Catholic families are being attacked, but was perplexed that God allowed such misery to His most faithful.
After reflecting on it for a while, though, I see things in a new light. Yes, we are under attack, but we are also blessed. When the Lord sends challenges, He sends them in order to strengthen our faith, to help us to grow in holiness towards a deeper union with Him. These truly horrible situations are opportunities (many saints called them gifts) for us to rise above the worldly despair and seek only that which is eternal. In the boat, the disciples were questioned for not putting their complete trust in Jesus as the waves were crashing on deck.
It is pride to believe that should such a tragedy hit me that I would not be bitterly heartbroken and intensely sad, and I pray daily to subdue my pride. But, I hope against hope that my faith would be strong enough to allow God to bring good out of such evil, to allow Him to mold my soul into something beautiful for His kingdom. For, only He knows best, and even when the storms of life are threatening to capsize our boat, His peace is everlasting.
Lord, help us to believe, to truly believe, that you will do what is best for us. Give us the grace of some suffering in our lives, so we might unite it to your suffering at Calvary. Should you allow a serious cross to be set before us, may we embrace it, carry it, and abandon all things of this world, so we might more intimately know your glory.