Sunday, 4 November 2007

Walking on Water: Taking Stock with Jesus.

Bible readings for this week’s reflection:
Psalm 23 “The Lord is my shepherd”
Mark 6: 45-51 “Jesus walks on water”

Commentary on a popular miracle:
From South Park to the MTV Awards everywhere you go, whatever you do you’re bound to come across a retelling or a joke about this popular miracle; Jesus walking on water. It’s easy to dismiss this as a children’s story or make light of it ourselves but in so doing the spiritual depth of this story can be overlooked.

Pick up the Gospel of Mark, or Google it and have a quiet read; you may be surprised how it speaks to you.

Whether or not Jesus literally walked on water is inconsequential; the point of the story is not what happens externally but rather the focus is the internal transformation within Jesus and his disciples.

Imagine this happening to you: your best friend has just been executed for the very same line of work you’re in, you’ve spent the entire day working only to give away all your food and all you want is a bit of quiet time to yourself when you find out your friends are stuck in a storm and need your help. It dawns on you that no matter where you go or what you do someone wants something from you and you begin to think; is there anything left to give?

Well that’s exactly what Jesus was going through; John The Baptist had just been beheaded and after talking with a crowd of people for the day he gave away all the food he and his disciples had. He knew if he continued down the path he was on he would suffer the same fate as John the Baptist; he was heading out into a storm with nothing and he needed time to take stock of everything that was happening.

So what did Jesus do? He went into the hills to pray while his disciples headed off in a boat together. When he came back he saw his disciples stuck in a storm on the water and he reached out to them; he walked across to them through the storm and got into the boat with them, and as he did the storm dissipated.

He was, through prayer, transformed from a man tired and worn by the trials that faced him to one enveloped by courage ready to face what confronted him.

So just what are the storms of our lives? Storms are the challenges we face in our every day life; they could be an upcoming exam, tensions at home or a moral dilemma at work. Like the clouds in the story of Jesus, the storms in our lives are shades of grey; there usually isn’t a clear black and white answer to the problem. One choice may be as right or as wrong as the next, in the story of Jesus walking on water we are offered a way to steer through these storms. We can’t expect God to solve our problems, however nice that may seem, but we can, through prayer ask God to accompany us, to sit next to us in our boat as we sail across the storms in our lives, and ask God to give us the courage to see our way clear to the other side.

The disciples were scared when they first saw Jesus out on the water, because it is scary asking for Jesus’ help. But no matter how scary it is acknowledging to ourselves, and to God that we are facing something difficult is part of dealing with our problems and moving forward. Whatever you are facing now in your life bring this to God in prayer, ask for the courage to face head on what you are confronted with and to get through the storm in your life by following God’s path for you.

Jesus offers us this advice: ‘courage, it’s me, do be afraid.’ We may not know what to do about our struggles, but, if we choose to follow Jesus, we can, through prayer, receive the gift of courage to not be afraid and to face what lies ahead.

Mary MacKillop’s strong faith in God gave her the courage to face what life threw at her; confronted with the vicious lies of those set against her she never wavered in her mission to lift up God’s children. We know from her account of her excommunication that in spite of the words spoken to her that stormy day by Bishop Sheil she felt the love of God wash over her and she had the faith-filled courage to endure the wrongs against her.

The miracle of this story is not that someone walked on water; but that the someone calmed the storm. That through pray someone had the courage to face the difficult path that lay before him and that by facing his life he was able to see clearly what must be done. Through this story we are taught the power and importance of prayer, that while our problems won’t be solved for us, they will be easier to face with the love of God behind us.

Questions to Ponder:
Picture yourself in this story; where are you?

Are you by Jesus’ side on the store, in the boat with the disciples or watching from afar?

What does your place in the story say about you? What storms are you facing in your life at this moment?

Are you able to take these storms to God in prayer?

Are you comfortable calling out to God for help?

Reflection: Have courage; Jesus is with you.
You may be just one rock amongst many in the world, but you are one rock that is in God’s hand.

Image: Untitled by Mel Brigg*