Monday, June 27, 2016

"WHY ARE YOU TERRIFIED?"


Homily for June 28th: Matthew 8:23-27.

          Jesus has dealt with the two would-be disciples whom we met in yesterday’s gospel reading. One promised to follow the Lord wherever he might go. Jesus warns him that discipleship may have a higher price than the man had reckoned. “The Son of Man,” he says, “has nowhere to lay his head.” The second man, already a disciple, wants to bury his father before responding to the Lord’s call. 

          Only now is Jesus able to break away from the crowd and embark in the boat with his friends. Following a long day of teaching and healing, Jesus is totally exhausted. He is  fast asleep when a violent storm comes up, without warning, throwing up steep waves which threaten to swamp the boat. “Lord, save us!” the disciples cry out as they wake him. “We are perishing!” Awake now, Jesus says calmly, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he rebukes the winds and the sea. “And there was great calm,” Matthew tells us.

          Immediately the disciples’ panic is replaced with amazement, as one of them asks the question that is in everyone’s mind: “What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?” The Jewish Scriptures, especially the Psalms, speak often of God ruling the sea and the waves. Now Jesus’ disciples have seen him act as only God acts.

          The story is Matthew’s gift to the Church, and to each of us who have become members of the Church in baptism. Time and again the Church, and we its members, are storm tossed. That we are frightened at such times is only natural. The story is the Lord’s assurance that he is always with us. No matter how often we have strayed from him, he remains close. He saves us for one reason alone: because he loves us – with a love that will never let us go.