IN THE MIDST OF THE CRISIS
As we look at the boat of Jesus’ disciples, tossed by waves and overcome by a strong wind against them, it’s not hard to see the figure of today’s Church, threatened from without by every type of opposing force and tempted from within by fear and mediocrity. How to read this Gospel story from the perspective of the crisis which seems to be shipwrecking the Church today?
According to the Gospel writer, «Jesus came towards them in the boat, walking on the sea». The disciples aren’t able to recognize him in the midst of the storm and the dark night. He seems to them to be a «ghost». Fear has them terror-stricken. The only reality is that powerful storm.
This is our main problem. We are living the crisis of the Church, spreading discouragement, fear and lack of faith from one to another. We aren’t capable of seeing that Jesus is coming close to us precisely in the midst of this powerful crisis. We feel ourselves more alone and defenseless than ever.
Jesus says three things to them: «Courage! It’s me! Don’t be afraid». Only Jesus can speak to them that way. But their ears only hear the pounding of the waves and the power of the wind. This too is our mistake. If we don’t listen to Jesus’ invitation to place our unconditional trust in him, to whom else can we go?
Peter feels an inner impulse and, sustained by Jesus’ call, jumps from the boat and «starts walking towards Jesus across the water». That’s how we need to learn to walk towards Jesus today in the midst of the crisis: supporting ourselves, not in power, prestige and securities of the past, but in the desire to meet up with Jesus in the midst of the darkness and uncertainties of our times.
It’s not easy. We too can falter and sink like Peter. But just like him, we can experience that Jesus extends his hands and saves us while telling us: «You have so little faith. Why do you doubt?».
Why do we doubt so much? Why don’t we learn anything at all anew from this crisis? Why do we keep looking for false securities to «just survive» in our communities, without learning to walk with renewed faith towards Jesus in the very interior of today’s secularized society?
This crisis isn’t the end of Christian faith. It is the purification that we need in order to free ourselves of mundane interests, deceitful triumphalism and deformations that have separated us from Jesus over the centuries. He is acting in this crisis. He is leading us towards a more evangelical Church. Let us reawaken our trust in Jesus. Don’t be afraid.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf