Reaching the Distant Shores

Clergy Corner by Fr. Ray

The disciples were at the mystery of a storm. "The boat, already several hundred yards out from shore, was being tossed about in the waves raised by strong headwinds." At the sight of what they thought was a ghost, all of them cried out with fear. But Christ assured them: "Get hold of yourselves! It is I. Do not be afraid!"

Peter was at the point of drowning than any of the others: he got out of the boat to walk across the water towards Christ. He was the symbol of all the disciples who were in threatening difficulties and dangers, as well as the helpless disciples in need of our Lord’s assistance and salvation. He summed up this condition as he said: "Lord, save me!"

This was a crisis of faith of Peter and in him the crisis of our faith. Our faith, like his, may have been strong from the start, but as the ups and downs in life escalate in terrifying proportions, doubts set in: we waver in our faith. When we begin to doubt in God, we will even be in greater trouble. We start to flounder and eventually drown. A let-down faith will send our life to sink to a low ebb. To stay afloat we have to struggle not to lose our trust in God despite the burden of afflictions. As St. Rose of Lima said, "The gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase."

How many can decide not to be bitter, but to be able to trust more in God when trials come? How many can survive the long months and years on bended knees and apparently receiving nothing? How many can continue to live a life of hope despite the onslaught of discouraging events? How many can patiently wait with faith and humility for the gift that God freely provides?

Peter exemplified a person who was open to the growth of faith. It was a faith that grew from one crisis to another. He kept on believing though he did not always understand. It was this openness to pass on to a new and deeper relationship with Christ that carried him through: when the ultimate crisis happened in Christ’s crucifixion. In the resurrection of the Lord, he was aware that he was to be independent-not of Christ, but of those things he was too dependent on- to depend even more on Christ’s grace.

Growth will always be painful, but Christ promises that His grace will always be sufficient to carry us through. St. Paul declares, "If God is with us, who shall be against us? If He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not give us all things with Him?" (Rom.8:31-32).

To struggle to stay afloat is not enough. It is to struggle with Christ that we will not only remain above water, despite the high tide of trials but succeed as well in reaching the distant shores.

 

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