Sunday, August 10, 2014

"Be not Afraid"

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014:

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014

By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
August 10, 2014

It's interesting to note: that in the first reading from the book of Kings we hear of a big, strong and heavy wind, which was rending the mountains crashing rocks before the Lord. Yet Elijah did not find God in the wind but recognized him in a tiny whispering Sound. If this confused Elijah so it would seem confuses us. The question being, why in a tiny whispering sound? Elijah must have known as we know that God is all-powerful and is controller of the universe, why then in a tiny whispering sound? Maybe the answer is as simple as this whispering sound in that God did not want to make Elijah frightened. How often have we heard Jesus say in one way or another, "be not afraid!"

In the gospel too, we hear of wind. But what leads up to this account of the walking on water, takes place after Jesus went off by himself to pray, reflecting on the death of John the Baptist. Having sent his disciples off by themselves to the other side of the sea, a strong wind develops and makes it difficult for them to gain any headway to the other shore. It is now the fourth watch of the night, in other words, 3 O'clock in the morning, when the disciples see someone walking towards them on the water. "It is a ghost," they said, and they cried out in fear. Jesus then spoke to them saying, "take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." Once again it was Peter, who jumps in, so to speak, without thinking first. Saying Lord if it is really you tell me to come to you across the water. Everything seemed to be working out quite well until Peter becomes frightened and then he starts to sink. Jesus stretch this out his hand to support Peter when Peter cries out Lord, save me! Finally Jesus would, say to Peter, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" As Jesus and Peter climbed back into the boat the wind dies down.

"Be not afraid"

How often do we here, even in central Minnesota become fearful of the wind. From time to time we will have frightening winds even at times tornadoes. We will even light blessed candles or burn bits of palm, knowing full well that this is not magic but is a symbol of our prayers rising to heaven bagging God to quell the storm.

I remember some years ago when our children were still young, on a particular day, I was working in the shop and the kids came running out, daddy, daddy the Alexandria radio just said that the storm would hit Sauk Centre in 15 minutes: apparently the storm was in Alexandria and heading our way. I close the shop and stood in the back window of our house and sure enough, the wind started to pick up, it seemed right on time. And I don't remember that I was particularly frightened but certainly concerned because I had a wife and children in the house. I started to pray the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy and after some time realized that every time I started the prayer with the words "Eternal Father" the wind died down. I did marvel at that, but then being called in for supper, I looked out, for there was a small tree outside our kitchen window and was bent over in the wind and once again I repeated the prayer of Mercy and said "Eternal Father" and little tree straightened up. I've never shared the story in homily before, but decided I wanted you to hear it not to convince myself but to convince you that God can and does work in this way.

Then remembering the storm about which Sister Faustina writes in her diary that would have inundated her native country of Poland. She prayed and she prayed and as her account in the story is given to us, the Angel of this storm complained that his purpose could not be accomplished because of the prayers of then Sister Faustina.

We hear in the news these last days of a double storm that is headed for Hawaii, the first such storm in 22 years. The weatherman tells us that this type of storm is a rare occasion for the islands even though they are stuck out there in the middle of the ocean, but because they are not much more than a pinpoint on the map a direct hit is rare. "Be not Afraid".

In the many storms of life, whatever they, will may be, we can and should hear Jesus saying to us, "take courage! It is I, do not be afraid."

I have one last story that I need to tell you, it's kind of a silly story, but it takes place right here in Minnesota. A young man by the name John had been hearing from his father, grandfather and great-grandfather how they had all walked on water on their 21st birthday. John has just turned 21 and besides, if his father, grandfather and great-grandfather could walk on water on their 21st birthday he could do the same. He along with his friend go out in the boat and John steps out of the boat and nearly drowns. Coming home spitting and sputtering that he couldn't walk on water on his 21st birthday! His grandmother takes him aside and says, "but John their birthdays are in January, yours is in July."

Can you walk on water on your birthday? I can! Even as Jesus is saying, "take courage be not afraid."

So you all be Good, be Holy, preached the Gospel always and if necessary use Words.

'Thank you' to Deacon Kaas, for letting me post his reflection here.

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