Events, both spectacular and ordinary can cause us to reflect on God and on our faith. It was the ordinary that has made me pause for reflection.
Recently Fr Simplicio and I took a much needed and welcome break in the beautiful countryside of Somerset where we stayed in a village just west of Yeovil. Early on in the week we ventured down to West Bay on the Dorset Coast, a place I last visited in the early 1970’s. In the heat and under a blue sky, we took a stroll towards the beach. The blue sea was calm, the cliff-face solid and both swimmers and strollers, relaxed. It was serene. In the midst of all this I noticed two watchful lifeguards. They too seemed caught up in the holiday mood, but really, they were vigilant, poised and ready for any emergency. Their presence was a reassurance but they were also a reminder of how things can suddenly change for the worse.
This, of course, is exactly what happened to the disciples in our Sunday Gospel when they embarked on a boat journey that very quickly became life threatening. Peaceful weather can suddenly become turbulent in that part of the world, especially on the lakes and as water poured into the boat, they woke Jesus crying out to him, “Master, do you not care? We are going down!”
It’s amazing to think that anyone could be asleep with their head resting on a cushion in the stern of a vessel at a time of such crisis, but this is exactly how Jesus was, serene and apparently oblivious in the middle of a desperate situation.
How often, have we cried out to God, ‘Help me, I’m going under. Don’t you care?’ when faced with a crisis, particularly a crisis of faith. God’s response to his disciples, “Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?’ seems somewhat unhelpful. It’s almost the same as someone telling us to pull ourselves together when we are in a total mess However, Jesus is simply stating a truth we all need to hear and that is, if you had more faith, you would have less fear; if you had great faith, you would be without fear. These are qualities the disciples would learn to strive for with the aid of the Holy Spirit. This is what we need to do as well, and with the prayers of others and their support we can achieve this.
Our time on the beach was mostly taken up with looking for unusually coloured stones washed up on the shore. It occurred to me later in a moment’s reflection, that this is how God shapes and moulds us through the difficulties and challenges of everyday life. My car boot has quite a selection of polished and finely honed stones. Hopefully a reminder of this truth.
LIFE IS GIFT, LIFE IS PRECIOUS
This Sunday in the Church’s life is a day dedicated to celebrating the sacredness of life. There will be a retiring collection, the proceeds of which help provide core funding for the Anscombe Bioethics Centre (formerly the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics) and assistance to other life related activities supported by the Church. The Anscombe Bioethics Centre is a Roman Catholic academic institute that engages with the moral questions arising in clinical practice and biomedical research.