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Unsinkable Faith

Updated on January 6, 2021

Don’t think about sharks when you‘re walking on water.” ~ Matshona Dhliwayo

Insurgence rules the day yet again in today’s 1st Reading (Jeremiah 28:1-17) wherein we revisit Jeremiah’s stern rebuke of Hannaniah for “preaching rebellion,” an act of disobedience that would ultimately lead to his demise.

As we continue to delve deeper into Jeremiah’s evangelical exploits, as we will over the next few days, one can’t help but wonder if he ever got tired of playing the heavy. First of all, as we learned last week, it was extremely hazardous to his wellbeing Additionally, as those of you who live your lives rooted in the truth of Jesus’ teachings can no doubt attest, it can at times strain or even disintegrate cherished relationships, or make one an outsider in the workplace and social settings. Such is the way for the intrepid few who seek the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13), a path that Jesus never said would be easy, but one which He promised would be rewarded in ways that go far, far beyond our limited secular understanding, hopes and expectations (1 Corinthians 2:9).

I know that many of you reading this have children who have fallen away from the church. I urge you to seek the intercession of Saint Monica during your prayers for them. Saint Monica prayed with great persistence that her son Augustine would repent and convert from his immoral life. He would eventually go on to become one of only 36 doctors of the Catholic Church. Prayer is powerful. Persistent prayer is unconquerable.

In today’s Gospel (Matthew 14:22-36), Jesus appears to his disciples, famously walking on water. Realizing that they were terrified and of the belief that He was a ghost, Jesus says to them “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” As was seemingly always the case, it was the outspoken Peter who cried out “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you in the water.” Jesus grants Peter his wish and as we all know, the winds kicked up, Peter’s faith fizzled out, and down like the SS Titanic he would go, sinking into the depths of the murky, early morning waters. Relying on Jesus’ power, he could do anything, mimicking even Jesus himself. But when he reverted back to his own flawed way of thinking ~ “the winds are picking up; there’s no way I can do this...” not realizing that it wasn’t him that was doing it to begin with, well... he sunk.

Fear runs rampant in our world today, perhaps now more then ever. This increase in needless worry and anxiety would seem to have increased in lockstep with the proliferation of cable news television and government overreach. Night after night, the same politicians appear on the same news networks. Amidst this myriad of TV appearances, one can’t help but wonder when these elected officials are actually working for the people who elected them. It would appear as though these politicians aren’t terribly interested in seeing their constituents improve their plight, socioeconomically or otherwise. As long as people remain downtrodden, they remain dependent. Dependency means job security to the average politician. In the meantime, God, who out of love for us has only our best interests in mind, continues to get pushed ever increasingly out of the picture. Prayer is without question our best weapon in the face of fear Relying on politicians and the (very much) for-profit media on the other hand will surely be our undoing. Or as Jesus will say in tomorrow’s Gospel “if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14).

Throughout his Papacy, Saint Pope John Paul II, whose Feast Day we celebrate today, was fond of saying “be not afraid,” for he knew that fear was one of the greatest obstacles to a vibrant Christian life. With prayer and an ever-increasing reliance on the Sacraments, detachment from trial and tribulation begins to become so commonplace that one's ability to carry his or her cross naturally grows as a result. All of this will happen if we are willing to, by faith, replace fear with hope and obedience to a God who is free of ulterior motives and full of love for those who simply place their trust in Him.

. . . be not afraid.


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