When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off over the sea for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the sea; and they were terrified. But he said to them, “I AM, have no fear” Now when they wanted to take him into the boat, immediately the boat was at the land, at the place where they wanted to go.
March 18, 2020
This gospel reading has the quality of a dream. It starts as something of a nightmare. It is night; the disciples are in a boat, working hard to make headway in rough seas. Suddenly they see Christ. He appears as if walking, a shining form above the waters. At first, they shrink with fear, but he calms them with the assurance of his very being – it is I. And when they take him in, they are suddenly at their destination.
Our lives, too, are sometimes beset with darkness and rough passages. It is just at those times when Christ can make his ever-presence known to us. He assures us that fear can be dispelled because he is the helping Guide on our journey. With his aid, we will reach our goal of firm grounding.
Not only is he our guide for the way, but he is also our bread for the way. Just as after a night on the sea of dreams, we come to the daytime shore refreshed, so too does Christ nourish our spirits. He gives our spirits life and strength. He comes to us, we who trust that we will survive with him, even in the darkest hours. Perhaps, like Rilke, we can also learn to love them. He says,
I love the dark hours of my being.
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life, already lived,
and held like a legend, and understood.
Then the knowing comes: I can open
to another life that’s wide and timeless.*
*Ranier Maria Rilke in Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, trans. by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy