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Hope in the Storm

  • April 30, 2022 (readings)
  • Saturday of the Second Week of Easter
  • Beth Van de Voorde
  • John 6:16-21

    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.

    Opening Prayer: Heavenly Father, I believe in you, I trust in you, and I love you. You have invited me to this time of prayer. Open my heart to hear and receive your word; increase my faith, hope, and love and so make me more able to enter deeply into dialogue with you. I want to let you be more present in my life today, Risen Lord. 

    Encountering Christ: 

    1. Evening, Stormy Darkness: The Apostles were alone. John told us it had already grown dark, and that Jesus was not with them. This was when the sea stirred up and strong winds began to blow. In the journey of following the Lord, there are many storms that come up along the way. Some arise because we ourselves have turned away from the Lord. Others, perhaps like this one for the Apostles, appear because the Lord wants to help us grow in our faith. During life’s storms, our rock-solid faith can strengthen us against the thrashing waves. “I wish you to be as a rock. A wave dashes against you. Silence. It assails you ten, a hundred, a thousand times. Silence. Say at most in the midst of the storm, ‘My Father, my Father, I am all yours! O dear, O sweet will of God! I adore you!’” (St. Paul of the Cross).

    2. Do Not Be Afraid: How many times in the Gospels–and all of Sacred Scripture–do these words come forth from the mouth and heart of God. How well he knows us—and how easily we tend to fear. We fear surrender, solitude, scarcity, betrayal, abandonment, and coming up short. There are fears all of humanity shares, in one form or another, and specific fears that the enemy strives to sew in each of our hearts. “But he said to them, ‘It is I. Do not be afraid’,” John tells us. In this time of prayer, may we allow the Lord, whose word is living and effective (Hebrews 4:12), speak the truth anew over our lives. Even in the deepest and loneliest storm, the Lord is with us in the boat. 

    3. Jesus and the Boat: John tells us they wanted to take Jesus into the boat, but immediately the boat reached the shore. We see the fruit of the theological virtue of hope at work here. In his encyclical letter on hope, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI writes, “There are already present in us the things that are hoped for: the whole, true life. And precisely because the thing itself is already present, this presence of what is to come also creates certainty” (paragraph 7). In other words, through Christian hope we already possess the very thing we long for. The Lord is already in our boat; the boat is already on its way to the shore. 

    Conversing with Christ: Jesus, you know me better than I know myself. You know my fears; you know the storms I find myself in right now. And you also know that I want to hope in you, to entrust my life to you. Sometimes the enemy’s voice feels louder than your own, and the waves crash. And I forget. Increase my hope, increase my trust. You are with me in the boat, Risen Jesus. You have already suffered all I am carrying, and you have triumphed. I pray for those who do not know you, Jesus, who do not know the hope and meaning you have come to bring to our lives. Strengthen my hope, as you did your apostles, so that I too may be your instrument in the world. 

    Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make an act of trust in you regarding whatever storm or evening darkness I may find in my life. 

    For Further Reflection: You may wish to spend some time with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s encyclical letter on hope, Spe Salvi


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