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Friday, August 8, 2014


Matthew 14:22-33

        In November 8, 2013 the Philippines was ravaged by Haiyan which was the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded in human history.  The devastation was massive: six thousand died and over ten million people lost their homes and properties.  What could have been the feeling of those people who were in the midst of such horrendous situation?  And more importantly, why did God let it happen just like the many natural disasters that are happening in the world.  The gospel this Sunday is a microcosm of the storms that continue to beset our lives as individuals and as a people.
        Jesus had just performed the miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fish and he asked his disciples to go to the other side of the lake while he stayed on to be with his Father in prayer.  In crossing the lake, the disciples had been battling the big waves for hours and suddenly, around three in the morning, Jesus appeared to them walking on the water.  The disciples, exhausted with fear of the strong winds and waves, were even more terrified to see such a strange thing which they thought of as a ghost.  Jesus assured them at once: "Take heart, it is I (I AM), do not be afraid."  Yet after saying this, the storm still continued.  Peter in his usual impulsive character asked that he, too might walk on the water.  When Jesus said "Come", Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water.   Looking at the big waves his fear got hold of him and he began to sink and shouted "Lord, save me."  Jesus immediately grasped Peter's hand with the penetrating question "Why did you doubt?"  When they got into the boat, the storm ceased and the disciples worshipped Jesus and professed their faith "Truly you are the Son of God."
        The storm for us in the story is not just the physical cyclone that brings devastation to lives and properties, but the many challenges of discomfort and life's crises that threaten and shake the core of our being.  In the midst of these baffling situations, we ask the perennial questions "Why did God let his happen?"  "Where is God in this storm?"  Jesus could have calmed the storm outright when showed himself to the disciples and yet the strong winds and waves continued to tossed them even in his presence.  Why?  Because it is to bring out the best of Peter and us!  Like Peter, we, too can do the impossible if only we believe.  And like Peter, we, too will sink in the abyss of our crises if we start our ego-tripping and turn our gaze away from Jesus.  Redemption in the Christian context is always a rising from death to new life and from utter humiliation to glorification.  In his near-death experience, Peter realised he could not save himself and in humility asked for Jesus' help.  This gospel is a confronting story to people who are experiencing storms in different forms.  No matter how massive the devastation these storms bring to us, at the end, with the help of God we always rise from the ashes like the Phoenix, to become renewed, stronger and better persons.  This is the wonder of the resilience of the human spirit.
        This story also confronts those who might be enjoying their huge success in life like Peter's "walking on the water".  This self-sufficiency that hinges on personal triumphs without God is the deification of the ego which is embraced by many in their proclamation of independence from God. They might enjoy for a bit of time like Peter did but human nature cannot sustain and redeem itself no matter how intelligent it is.
        When we are either sinking or walking on the water, it is not about us; it is about God who makes all things possible!


I was in the midst of a great storm
My eyes were blinded by the heavy rains
As bitter tears rolled down my dirty face
Angry lightning sliced through the dark sky
Anguish pierced my shivering spirit through
The violent gusts of wind in its ravaging kiss
My sunken body beaten up by mundane delights
The lahar cascading all rubble and rubbish
My gasping heart oozing the black mud of sin
Furious thunder raging through the heavens
And passions devouring every fiber of my being
But when I looked out through the window of my soul
I saw you there in the eye of the storm, comforting me!

From the book EMPTIFUL by Fr. Vlad

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