“WOULD YOU WALK ON OUR SEA?” (Mk 6:45-52): 09 January 2008 (Black Nazerene of Quiapo, Wednesday)
The Quiapo Church in Manila is home to the Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno, the life-sized, dark-skinned statue brought to the country from Mexico over 400 years ago. Today, the 9th of January, is the Feast of the Black Nazarene, as the image is more popularly known. The statue will be placed on a carriage and pulled through the streets of Quiapo by a rough exclusively-male procession.
The image is believed to be miraculous: Anyone who touches it may receive a long-desired healing. For this reason, all throughout the course of the procession, towels are thrown to the people guarding the statue to be rubbed against it hoping that doing so would give the towels some healing power.
The sight of the Black Nazarene sailing over the ocean of thousands of men in one of the largest processions in the Philippines is quite unforgettable and deeply moving. That is why reading the gospel story today, where the Lord walks on the Sea of Galilee, moves me to ask, “Would you walk on our sea?”
The Feast of the Black Nazarene reminds us that today we could very well be the sea that he walks on. The rippling, pulsing procession of the Black Nazarene symbolizes our hopes and dreams, our fears and anxieties–a veritable ocean on which the Lord walks.
And the symbolism makes sense. Don’t we each day feel the changing tide deep within us? Haven’t we too often sensed the raging of the ocean inside of us, when the waves of our emotion rise and sweep us away? Like the sea, our lives are ever-changing too–sometimes calm, and sometimes–all too suddenly–stormy and scary.
Today, the Feast of the Black Nazarene, why don’t we, therefore, beg him to walk on our waters? Why don’t we pray that he crosses our sea and in the process, calm it as he does in the gospel? Why don’t we ask him, “Lord, would you walk on our sea?”
Sweet Jesus, Christ our Lord, here is the ocean of my life. Here is the sea of my dreams and fears. Come please, and walk on my waters. My life can be so uncertain in this imperfect, violent world. The ocean of my life can be so deceptively peaceful at times, and then suddenly, it can turn turbulently against me, threatening to rise and swallow me. Come please, and walk on my ocean. In the midst of my fears and anxieties, I long to hear you say to me, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid.” Come please, and calm my sea.
And when you do come and walk on my sea, let me not forget, not even for a moment, that as in the Procession of the Black Nazarene, you will do so bearing your cross.