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LEARNINGS FROM OUR "STORMS IN LIFE"
Jesus walks on the water
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Our readings this Sunday remind me of an action song which I’ve learned back when I was in the elementary as my mother used to drag us to one of her charismatic meetings. The song goes:
He gives me strength … falala lala lala. Yes, He gives me strength … falala lala lala
I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength … falala lala lala
Do you believe in the strength that God provides us? Do you have faith that you can do all things through Christ? Is there meaning in the “storms” that we encounter in our lifetime? Let me highlight some insights:
1. Our “storms in life” show to us the true source of our strength. Who is the source of our strength? Of course, it is Jesus as shown in today’s Gospel. It is His presence which gives us peace even in the strongest storms of life: storms of sorrow, doubt, tension and uncertainty, anxiety and worries, anger and despair, and of temptations to name a number of them. These storms make us vulnerable and incapable of saving ourselves so much so that we are moved to recognize a power higher than us in a GOD, who only has the ability to save us. Our “storms” in life remind us that without God, we are nothing! As we acknowledge His power, we can confidently say, “I can do all things, through Christ who gives me strength!”
My Aunt died of cancer of the lungs years ago. I was a seminarian back then. Each time I would come to her home to give her daily communion, I cannot but pity her in her condition. How could a woman, who’s not even a smoker, die of cancer of the lungs? How could a woman who’s so pious die of such a dreadful disease? But surprisingly, she was happy. In times when she was suffering, she would not show a trace of pain in her face just to keep her family from worrying about her condition. Whenever I asked her where she would get her strength, she would confidently remark, “I get it through my faith in Christ. My pain is nothing as compared to His who willingly died on the cross just to follow the will of His Father.” Do we have such attitude? Do we have such faith in the midst of our storms in life?
2. Our “storms in life” enables us to have a trusting faith in God. Out of the three synoptic accounts of Jesus’ walking on the water, it was only Matthew who gives an account of Peter walking on the water. As Matthew puts this account in his narrative, we are brought to further understand it through Peter and his faith. Of course, we could clearly highlight Peter’s sinking which tells us how little his faith was. But more importantly, we also need to look at his leap of faith. Through Peter, we are reminded that at times we lose track of our faith especially in the most trying storms in life. Nevertheless, from such depth of pain, we remember to call on the Savior and to sustain our confidence to keep our gaze fixed on Him even in the most trying storms in life.
There was once a son of a dying parent in the hospital whom I heard confession. He hasn’t gone to confession for 30 long years. When I asked him why only now? He said that his father’s impending death shook him to his core and made him start thinking about the value of life and taking the right direction. For him, confession was a good start to do so.
See? At times, we need those “storms” in life in order to shake us to our core and to refocus our attention to God … to have a trusting faith in God! I’m not saying that we should wait for that moment before we act on it, what I’m actually saying is to serve each day as an opportunity to do the will of the Father as Jesus did.
3. Our “storms in life” give us assurance of hope in the midst of persecutions. Jesus said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid!” To be afraid, is to not to have faith. To be afraid is to lose hope. Faith implies a strong bond of friendship with God. A bond, which was clearly manifested in the Old Testament between God and the Israelites. And so when Jesus, asked his disciples not to be afraid, he was actually appealing to them in terms of their faithfulness to Him. To remind them that even in the old times, God has always been there for them even in their most trying moments or “storms in life.” Jesus remains to be our champion from of old and even until now. This episode as it was recalled to Jesus’ disciples could have given them great comfort as it offers them an assurance that Christ would save them. Today, it offers us the same reassurance especially in times of illness, death of a beloved, persecution, or other troubles.
To suffer is difficult if we own our sufferings to ourselves and so some people would end their lives that way. But if we cling to Christ’s assurance that there is hope even for just a flicker, we have more reason to live it up to the fullest. In Christ there is hope, in Christ we have strength to carry on.
When we are confronted with our personal “storms in life,” let us always remember our source of hope, who is Christ. Our Savior who suffered tremendously in order that worldly sufferings be turned to strength through faith in Christ. Let us take them as an honor and privilege for by taking those “storms in life” squarely, we too share in His sufferings on the cross.