Sunday, June 21, 2015

why be afraid?

May my words be in the Name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: + Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

I always find this morning's reading a little strange. Not because the wind and the waves obey Jesus. I expect that; he is the second person of the Holy Trinity, God himself made man. The surprise would be if he could not control the elements, not that he can. No, for me the strangeness comes from his words to his disciples – why are you afraid? Have you no faith?

Now, consider: there they are out on the Lake. And if you have never seen the sea of Galilee, I can assure that it is an enormous body of water. If you are out in the middle of it, you are a long way away from the shore. I know that I would be afraid if I was out on it and a violent storm blew up. And many of Jesus' companions were fishermen, used to working the lake. If they are afraid, one can presume that things must be quite serious.

And yet Jesus rebukes their fear, saying they lack faith. In what way are they lacking in faith? A storm has blown up, a deadly storm, and they call upon the Lord for help. And their faith in him is justified, for he indeed saves them. So, if they were lacking in faith in some way, it would seem that it was not that they did not trust in the Lord.

Perhaps he chastises their lack of faith because they fear death? And he does not wish them to. For all must face death at some point; if we put our faith in what God has promised us, then we know that eternal life awaits us after this life, so death is nothing to fear. And, of course, Christ knew that all these men would after he had Ascended to the place from whence he came would be entrusted with spreading the good news to the world of how God had loved us so much that he became man, suffered and died for us, and rose again from the dead. And that they would face death for telling that truth to the world – death, torture, imprisonment, rejection, mockery, and many other hardships. So of all men, he did not want these to fear death.

And perhaps he meant more than that they should not be afraid of dying. For did not our Lord not tell these men elsewhere in the Gospels that they should not be afraid of those who could kill the body, but after that could do no more? But rather they should he who could kill both body and soul in heaven? Meaning, of course, that we should not fear death; for the only thing to fear is that we should not enter into eternal life. A storm at sea or the sword of one who hates the faith is of little concern when compared with the far worse harm we can do to ourselves if we are not obedient to God's will and because of that we lose out in eternity in heaven.


And that is what our Lord says to us this morning. Life is fragile. We all, in one sense or another, travel in a small boat on a stormy sea, not knowing if we will perish in a moment, or survive a while longer, waiting for the next storm or something else that will sink our craft. But we need not fear. If we have spent our time loving God, and showing that love through obedience to his will, throwing ourselves upon his mercy and confessing our sins when we fail, strengthening our souls by feeding on the Holy Food he has graced us with by partaking frequently and worthily in the Blessed Sacrament of his Body and Blood, then we need not fear any storm. For we will know that when the day comes when our boat is finally overwhelmed, it is not death that awaits us, but life eternal. Amen

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