Passages: Is. 61:10-62:9; 2 Tim. 2:15-26; Jn. 6:15-21
Ընթերցուածքներ՝ Եսայ. ԿԱ 10 – ԿԲ 9; Բ Տիմ. Բ 15-26; Յով. Զ 15-21
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen!
Over the last couple of years we have had a relatively mild winter here in Chicago. The cold has been limited and the snow has been on and off. Last night, was the first real severe snowstorm we’ve had all winter. It made driving very difficult and most of us didn’t want to leave home. It is safer to stay indoors, in the warmth and comfort of our homes and with those we love, rather than deal with crazy drivers, and the storm. The other day, as I was driving to do a home blessing, there was a moment that it became almost a white out. I could barely see the cars around me but thankfully, as I followed the GPS and with some safe driving tactics, I was able to maneuver out of the storm and reached my destination. Much like in today’s Gospel my dears, we read of how the disciples while crossing the Sea of Galilee were caught up in a storm. I’m not sure how many of us have had a chance to visit that part of the world but I have seen some of the storms that can occur on that lake, and they are dangerous. Regardless, most of us know this story, of how Jesus appears to the disciples, he walks on the water and once they recognize and accept Him into the boat, the storm stops, and they reach their destination.
This story is relatively self-explanatory. If we accept Christ into our lives, if we receive God then the storms in our life will subside, right? But what is interesting my dears and something we might miss if we don’t pay attention to it, is why were the disciples in the boat without Jesus in the first place? Why wasn’t Jesus traveling with them? To understand this, we need to also look at the other Gospel accounts of this same story, because in the Gospel of Matthew and Mark, what we read is that Jesus basically tells the Disciples to go across to Capernaum and he will meet them there. Jesus sends them out onto the lake. This might seem strange at first glance but what it seems to say is that Jesus, God the Son, knew there was a storm and sent them out into it – and this would be correct. Unfortunately my dears, too many of us today, assume that to be a Christian means to be protected from the storms, from difficulties and pain in life. That if we believe in God, that if we are doing the will of God, praying, fasting, attending Church, following the commandments, then our life will be peaceful, and we won’t face storms. When we do fall into storms and difficulties, we question our faith, and God. Why did God allow me to fall into this storm? This my dears, is what conditional faith looks like. Meaning we believe in God on the condition that life will be peaceful and blessed. Whereas, obedience to God, truly following and being in Communion with God has nothing to do with the condition of our comfort.
The truth is my dears, we are all facing storms in our life. In our relationships, in our workplaces, at school, with our spouse and kids, maybe in Church. Storms are everywhere and unavoidable. And yes, sometimes God allows us and even sends us in the direction of a storm. God tells us to leave our comfort zone and go forth with a purpose. It is therefore, not why we are in the storm that is questionable but rather, what is our reaction to the storms, which defines and reveals our faith in God. When I was caught in the storm a few days ago, imagine if I had turned back, or started panicking rather than carefully following my GPS, and driving to my destination – I would not have done a home blessing or had the wonderful spiritual conversation with the family I visited. Imagine if the Apostles, if Sts. Peter and Paul had stopped every time they faced difficulties or suffering when serving the Lord – we would not have learned and witnessed the message of Christ. What about when Noah was asked to build the Ark; imagine if he said this is too hard, I don’t know anything about building a boat, let alone caring for all those animals – we would not have seen how God protecting the faithful family of Noah when all around them sin was rampant.
What about us, what about the storms we face and the comfort we lose – what would happen if we abandoned our faith, stopped, gave up, what would happen? My dears, remember the words of the Psalmist, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for you are with me…” (Psalm 23) Yes, my dears, storms exist in our life and just because we follow God and do His will, does not mean we will not face storms; rather, when we recognize God’s presence, when we remain trusting and faithful even in times of doubt and fear, then no matter what storms we face, no matter how many waves crash up against us, no matter how difficult it is to come out of our comfort zone, KNOW that God will bring us to our destination, reveal to us our purpose and protect us from the real dangers of evil – for He is with us. Yes, it is easier to just stay home, keep quiet, avoid confrontation and remain in our comfort zone. However, as Christian’s we are called to face storms, acknowledge and carry our cross, but do so not with our own strength and will, but with God.
My dears, Daniel was placed into the Lions Den and God shut their mouths; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego stood in the fire but the flames did not engulf them; Noah waited patiently in the Ark and God brought them to rest on Mt. Ararat; the Apostles faced daily persecution and death and the seeds they planted flourished into the world; our saints weere threatened and killed and we live today; we are all in a storm my dears – what is our reaction, how is God guiding us through it? Each one of us is dealing with some form of darkness, question, suffering, fear, anxiety, depression, loss, etc. we are all in the same boat, in our own storms. Regardless of how we have come into the storm, God the Father will guide us through the storm, Christ Jesus will bring us to our haven, the Holy Spirit will comfort us and give us strength to endure, for we are not alone in this life. Psalm 34:4 “I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Let us seek, look for the Lord and He will answer us and deliver each of us through the storms we face for He is merciful, compassionate and loving. And to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is due all glory, honor and worship Amen.