Saturday, April 13, 2013

Our Works, His Grace

 [For your benefit I've included the Gospel since it was my sole focus for this reflection. Please leave a comment or your reaction below!]

When it was evening, the disciples of Jesus went down to the sea, embarked in a boat, and went across the sea to Capernaum. It had already grown dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they began to be afraid. But he said to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” They wanted to take him into the boat, but the boat immediately arrived at the shore to which they were heading. (Jn 6:16-21)

The Gospel writers were fond of relating 'on/by the water' scenes to their readers. Many significant events happen by the seashore: some of the Apostles are called, Jesus teaches great crowds, and he encounters the Apostles after the Resurrection.

In this instance—Jesus walking on water—it would appear as if nothing significant happens, at least nothing as instructive as Jesus' instruction and dialogue with Peter.

Our indication comes from what follows this scene, namely the 'bread of life' discourse in the sixth chapter of John. The account of Jesus appearing to the disciples walking on water is the prelude to one of His most important teachings.

Place your own spirit in this setting.
The theme of light, again, helps us understand how we should take these events to heart.

In the evening, the time light recedes from the sky, the Apostles set out to sea. The boat here is an instrument of man's labor and when rowing on the sea a man is entirely dependent upon his efforts to keep himself safe and guide his journey.

Darkness came and Jesus was not yet with them. They anticipated Jesus would be with them, but instead they were confronted with darkness. They could no longer rely on their senses and their sense of direction was reduced or even negated. These men, by their own efforts, sought God in the darkness but could not find Him straightaway. They, however, were not disheartened.

Then a storm stirred the waters, which indicates that their efforts would not only meet resistance but that at this moment they had no control over their own situation. Nevertheless they remained steadfast and labored in the storm. Life itself will have moments of darkness where we do not know where we are going and storms that leave us at the mercy of all around us.

After a time they saw Jesus walking on water: Jesus navigates the darkness easily and He is not at the mercy of what surrounds Him. Rather, He is in complete control. He approached their boat and at that moment they became afraid. They had encountered difficulties but never this strange and marvelous sight. Jesus tells them, “Do not be afraid” and they listened.

Rather than accept upon impulse something marvelous and strange they waited for the Lord's voice to assure them. After His reassurance, meaning they discerned clearly that He was the Lord, they desired that He enter their boat, that is to say their own efforts.

The moment they desired this the boat they were in landed at their destination. Here it does not say they “rowed to their destination” but rather they “immediately arrived.” It was still dark and the storm persisted but Jesus brought them safely to their destination.
Seek Him in all you do--it sounds easy, but it requires strength and perseverance. It also requires that we humble ourselves and submit to instruction and correction.
My brothers and sisters, our good works and labors will not bring us to our final destination, only Jesus can. Like the disciples in this boat, however, they persevered through darkness and storm anticipating Jesus. Jesus came to them, not the other way around. When they desired that He might with them their journey had ended.

There is no journey apart from seeking Christ. Though we are stuck at times in storm and darkness He approaches us in all serenity. Accept Him into your daily labors. Then all of your works, if not successful, will be complete. 

 A reflection I gave today (4/13/2013). The readings I reflected on may be found here, but I provided the Gospel, my sole focus, in the work.

I decided to go the 'allegorical' route this time around while mixing in some moral/spiritual instruction. While I don't feel myself particularly qualified or worthy to offer such lofty advice, this is rather me sitting with this reading and allowing it to rest with me for a while. Hopefully you find something to reflect on yourself.