Fr. Morel’s Sermon on January 31, 2004
Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
Calming of the Stormy Sea
The Scripture for today’s Mass falls good for us. It is in harmony with the prophecies of Our Lady of Good Success-"The Star of the Stormy Sea"-"the Port of the shipwrecked" in times of storms and troubles, in times of strong winds and rough seas.
Our Lord is sleeping in the boat which is the Church, sleeping in the soul of each faithful. This gospel portrays Our Lord’s Divinity, His capacity to control Nature and His liberty vis a vis human will.
The gospel tells us that by the evening, he was tired and so ordered his disciples to set out in the boat for the other side of the lake to seek a little peace and quiet.
The Lake of Tiberias, of Genesar, or Genesareth, also called the Sea of Galilee, is situated at the North-East of Palestine, forming the eastern border of the province of Galilee. It is some fourteen miles long by seven miles wide, with a depth of between thirty-six and fifty four feet. Ira geographical position is interesting, since it is some six hundred feet below sea-level and surrounded by high hills. For this reason sudden storms are quite usual, caused by the high winds sweeping down from Mt. Hermon to the north of the lake.
Our Lord is tired; his sermon must have been a long one. Therefore, in search of rest, He told his disciples to sail over to the other side of the lake, some seven miles journey. He took advantage of the calm to sleep in then boat, his head on a cushion. However, His disciples were soon alarmed by their knowledge of the lake and the signs of an approaching storm, which soon fell upon them in all its force. At first they respected our Lord’s rest from care and did what they could to protect themselves, reefing in the sails and using oars. But soon it was clear that the danger was very great; the sea rose higher and higher and the waves were on the point of wrecking the little boat. Then they called the Master: Lord, save us, we are sinking! It was obvious that they had lost their confidence in him to some extent, because, if they had real faith in Him, they might have remembered the words of Jeremias (5. 22). However, in their danger it is easy to forgive them, as Christ did. He merely says to them: Why are you faint-hearted, men of little faith? Then he spoke to the wind and the sea: Peace, be still! And the wind dropped, and there was a great calm. Who is this, they said to one another, who is obeyed even by the winds and the sea?
We are told that Our Lord got on a boat and while they were crossing from one shore to another the storm came…..
The boat is the Church and
Our Lord sleeps
Christ sleeps when we are negligent and therefore the storms of temptation arise. He also appears to sleep sometimes when we are going through a periods of great trial, so as to awaken in us sentiments of confidence and trust in Him. Christ does not withdraw himself from us; it is us who withdraw ourselves from Him. Just as the sun warms all, but mostly those who place themselves within reach of its rays.
"Lord save us"
Firstly: If you notice,
Our Lord slept.
Why should He do this? He did this to try the faith of the Apostles. They had not been made aware of the testing of their faith in His Divinity. And Our Lord wanted to create an occasion to get them to believe in Him as God and not only as the miracle-maker that he has been doing previously (prior to getting on the boat across the lake). The Disciples came up to him and said, "Lord, we perish! Get up!" Why should you fear Death when you are in the company of Life? Why should you fear Nature when you are in the company of the Creator of Nature? Why should you fear when "Confidence Incarnate" sleeps in the same boat that you are traveling on? Men of doubt!
The Gospel reflects for us the prophecy given to Mother Mariana. The storms of persecution, the storms of temptation, the storms of idolatry, immorality rise up and threaten to capsize the boat, because the boat symbolizes the Church crossing the times and ages of existence from one shore to another. The boat has always been a symbol of both the Church and the individual soul. And while the boat of the Church is crossing, it is attacked by all sorts of storms. And what do we do? We do like the Apostles did. We get to the Lord to wake him up because we think that the boat will sink because we lack confidence. "Lord save us!" Whenever the Church faces troubles it is not the fault of Our Lord. It is our fault, the baptized members of His Church because God does not withdraw Himself from us. Rather, we kick Him out of us by sinning. Whenever we kick the Lord out of us, we cannot expect anything but storms since Nature will revolt. Nature will not accept that the Majesty of God is offended.
In our stormy times, today, Someone (still) sleeps on the deck of the Church. It is as if Our Lady tells us, "My Son is offended by the sins of this time. However, my Son is here. If only men and women would come back to me, the storms you are facing now would be calmed."
The Message of Our Lady, the comforter of the afflicted, is that through her intervention we can get the Son to calm the sea—the sea of immorality and godlessness which was prophesied for this time in which we live.
Secondly, the storm of
our soul-the interior storm.
The end of the Gospel now
Who is He that even Nature will obey Him? Our Lady at Fatima gave a sign. The sun obeyed her and it danced. Our Lady has a power over the elements because she has been associated to the power of Her Son. If the Son has such power, let us humbly beg Our Mother and listen to her by making penance and atonement. Only in obedience to her can we be sure of success in the soul and in this time of our trials.