“CAN YOU STILL MY STORM?” (Mt 14:22-33): 10 August 2008 (Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time)
Today’s gospel reading is easy to relate to. We know about storms, don’t we? Many of us have experienced storms in our lives, both storms caused by nature as well as those encountered in life in general.
I remember one particularly powerful and frightening storm from my childhood. The name of the storm was Typhoon Yoling, and although I don’t recall the precise storm signal that was raised, I still remember looking out our window and watching with disbelief street signs and roofs flying in the air, uprooted by the howling wind. That typhoon was one of the most powerful I’ve experienced in my life.
Lately, the world has been experiencing abnormally powerful storms–not to mention other natural calamities. The more scientific among us say all this is the effect of global warming. The more pious ones claim it’s some kind of divine global warning. Which is which? Maybe both, when you think about it.
But what of the other type of storm in our lives? The kind that often descends upon us without warning, or sometimes brews silently and secretly before it strikes suddenly? I’m of course referring to problems and crises that we encounter. This type of storm can be just as frightening and devastating as nature’s storms.
It can be an unexpected misfortune: a loved one diagnosed with a serious illness, a business suddenly gone bankrupt, a valued relationship turned sour or abusive… These storms come in many forms, but regardless of their form, they disrupt the calm in our lives: They uproot us from whatever it is that used to ground us and they toss us with a violence many of us are unaccustomed to. In such moments all we can do is hang on and pray the storm will pass without leaving our lives–and our selves–too much in ruins.
In today’s gospel reading, the Lord does precisely what we hope and pray that he will do when we meet storms in our lives. He stills the storm. To the amazement of his disciples, he addresses the wind and the waves, summoning an authority that issues from who he is, and commands Nature to basically shut up.
Yes! That’s exactly what we want him to do to the storms in our lives: For these bewildered friends, whose formerly healthy bodies are suddenly racked and ravaged by some disease. For those people who stay in bed wide-eyed and sleepless, worrying about how to make both ends meet for their families the next day. For those whose hearts are wounded and shattered by people who have thoughtlessly tossed their hearts away. When these storms rage in our lives, what else can we do but turn to him who alone can still the storm?
So Lord, why don’t you then face our storms the way you did aboard the boat of your disciples that stormy night at sea? Cross whatever lake that separates you from us, walk on our water, and all you have to do is say the word, and even the most violent of storms will miraculously die down. Won’t they?
But you don’t, do you? At least not all the time. Most of the time, you sit by us–too often too silently–and if we even notice, we’ll see you riding the storm with us. Such seems to be your way.
I think you won’t take it against us if we feel some disappointment, will you? I suspect you’ll even understand if we get upset or angry at you, or if we can’t help questioning you or even accusing you the way Job, that holy man of suffering in the Old Testament, did in Scripture.
What’s the point of praying for you to come and still our storm if most of the time you won’t anyway? What’s the point of all the devotions, the rosaries, and the Masses and prayers for healing if you won’t grant what we ask for anyway–at least not all the time? In fact, if you do decide to stop the storm, it will be because youwill it, not us. So why pray?
But maybe just the same, we should still call on you. Maybe just the same, we should still pray and plead with you. Even if you don’t stop the storms around us, maybe praying to you will quiet the the storms in our soul and calm the turbulent waves pounding in our hearts. And who knows? Maybe in the greater scheme of things, that is the more important storm to still because only when you still our inner storm will we survive the winds and rains around us. And only when we have yourpeace–the peace that runs deeper than all the troubles around us–only then can we manage to bring ourselves to pick up the pieces of our lives in the storm’s aftermath.
Here’s a Quick–but disturbing–Question for you: “Do you agree that God usuallydoesn’t still the storms in our lives? What do you think of a God like that?” Think about it, and if you feel up to it, share a thought, a feeling, or even a question.
Note: Apologies for this very late post. Although I started writing this entry early, I couldn’t finish it in time for posting before an early morning flight. And for various reasons, I couldn’t do this last night. Mea culpa.