Calming our Storms
From Today’s Gospel—
“TEACHER, DO YOU NOT CARE THAT WE ARE PERISHING?”
“WHY ARE YOU TERRIFIED? DO YOU NOT YET HAVE FAITH?”
Truly, Jesus’ calming of the storm is a precious image to all of us. “Jesus, please calm the storm of my besieged family.” (There were a lot of those prayers left at our Shrine of St. Rita this past Feast Day.) “Jesus, please calm the storm of our terrorized, high-tech war-torn world.” “Jesus, please calm the seas of the human body politic that generates fear and discontent here in our country and around the world.” —Or, what’s the particular storm you want Jesus to calm and say BE STILL! But if we want to apply today’s gospel image to our current storms, then we have to apply his response as well: “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”
Don’t you just hate it when life is an absolute mess and someone (like me) says, “Just have faith”? It seems like such a lame answer. It seems like, I just told you that my life is in the toilet and all you had to say was “Just smile and flush it.” I guess the feeling is that there just has to be something more to Jesus’ own response—and of course, there is. After all, Jesus did command and the storm and seas did calm down.
You could say, that for those who were the victims of slavery in the south, most of the sea is calmed (certainly not by the wave of a wand). Or, name your choice of disaster or human tragedy of the last decade, and there will be elements of first responders and enduring helping hands that represent some degree or some form of calming. To carry the point further, imagine that moment or moments when calm comes to someone who has been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease or, perhaps, after a 7.1 earthquake. My experience as a priest is that all calming comes only when faith, hope, and love kick in. And all too often, in the face of panic with a family, my parish, a friend, or myself, I too ask, “Do you (I) still not have faith?”
So what is this faith?
Biblically and religiously, the answer is: the faith that Jesus the Redeemer and Savior remains with us at all times and in all situations; the faith that just when we are truly sorry for our sins and commit to amend, our sins are truly forgiven; and the faith that, if the ultimate happens, the doors of heaven are open to us (you know, “the better place”).
But the practical answer is: the faith, hope, and love enough to be there for the other person or persons in their time of need. Remember the Gospel man “who fell in with robbers”? Calm came to his storm when a man of faith and hope simply loved and saved him—the Good Samaritan. It’s always the same. How many times does it happen, though, that the victim, the person in the hospital bed, for instance, is the one who has the faith, and the one who winds up calming everybody else down around him or her? Think about it.
I am convinced, and as a friend of mine likes to say, “I am unanimous in this!” that God means for us to calm each other’s storms with the power of faith, hope, and love that we were baptized with. We are called to calm each other’s fears with our faith. We have the God-given power within us to say BE STILL!