“Avoiding the plank of transient assurances and ‘embracing the Rock of Everlasting Refuge!’”
(Based on Job 38:1,8-11, 2 Cor 5:14-17 and Mk 4:35-41 – 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time)
A captain of a ship – quite deep rooted in his faith and love for Christ – was addressing a group of teenage boys and girls.
He told them, “My dear young ones! Do not get swayed by your emotions and feelings, in your life of faith.
When you are struggling in the waters of sin, and you try to get closer to hold the hands of Jesus, you know what does the devil do?
He holds out a plank of ‘false feelings and assurances’ and says – ‘Get on to this… and you will feel better!
And when you lose focus from Jesus and step on to that ‘plank,’ he pulls it out…
… and your state of life will be worse than before!
Therefore my friends, remember always…
… Depend not on false feelings. Depend on Your Faith!
… Lose not your focus from Jesus. Allow His Hands to uphold you!
Avoid the plank of transient assurances. Embrace the Rock of Everlasting Refuge!”
The Gospel of the Day is a beautiful encounter of the disciples experiencing “the waves of struggles”…
… and being reminded to “Embrace the Rock of Everlasting Refuge!”
It’s a very late evening… nearing midnight…
The disciples along with Jesus, who have embarked on a boat, are caught in the midst of a heavy storm.
“A violent squall came up and the waves were breaking over the boat…” (Mk 4: 36)
Some of the disciples were fishermen.
They had been many years at the sea.
They had often suffered the fury and vehemence of nature
They had been greatly used to many storms and tempests at sea.
But this storm seemed to be too fierce and too ferocious.
The disciples feared greatly!
The disciples panicked very much!
With death bells ringing in their ears, and a dreadful end before their eyes…
… the disciples were shocked to see Jesus, unmoved and unperturbed.
The Gospel says that “Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion” (Mk 4:38)
In the moment of their deep anguish and helpless, the disciples cry out:
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mk 4:38)
The boat could capsize anytime and all of them could be drowned soon…
The storms could lash brutally and the waves could overturn them any moment…
Time was fast running…
But Jesus seemed totally unfazed!
Jesus seemed totally disinterested!
So they cried out to Jesus… Lord, do you not care?!
How many times have we screamed similar words to God:
“Lord, do you not care?”
Lord, do you not care… that my family member is so sick?
Lord, do you not care… that I feel totally alone and miserable in my life?
Lord, do you not care… that my marriage is failing and my family is breaking up?
Lord, do you not care… that am without a job now and the future ahead is so bleak?
Lord, do you not care… that my life seems so meaningless and without any purpose?
Lord, do you not care… that I am plunged to loneliness and abandoned by all my friends?
Lord, do you not care that I encounter only failures, dejection and rejection in my endevours?
When we look into the Gospel, it is amazing to know whose plan it was, in the first place to make this boat journey…
When we re-read the Gospel passage, we find the answer…
Mk 4:35 says, “On that day, as evening drew near, Jesus said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side!’”
Shall we read that again?
… JESUS said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side!”
The idea to go in the boat was not that of the disciples…
The idea to go in the boat was that of JESUS!
The encounter with the storms was not some accident!
The stumbling into the violent waves was not some unlucky thing!
It had a purpose!
It had a meaning!
It had an intention!
For the disciples, it was a moment of terror…
… But the Lord used this terrorizing time to teach them to have faith in Him!
For the disciples, it was a time of immense crisis…
… But the Lord used this critical moment, to teach them to trust in Him!
For the disciples, it was a time of dreadful fear…
… But the Lord used this fearful circumstance, to teach them to believe in Him!
The disciples – who had stepped on the “plank of fear”- were given a lesson: Lose not your focus from Jesus. His Hands will uphold you always!
Our moments of struggle are a time of testing…
Our moments of struggle are a time of learning…
Testing of our genuine faith… learning of deeper trusting!
Testing of our real convictions… learning of profound dependence!
The Lord reminds us of His Sovereignty, as he asked Job, who was going through the sea of sufferings: “Who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst out from the womb?
When I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed bounds for it, and set bars and doors…” (Job 38: 8-10)
Let us deepen our trust in the Lord especially in moments of crisis, so that as St Paul assures us, we can be ‘ambassadors of the new creation’:
“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Cor 5:17)
When life takes us through the “waves of sin and struggle,” let us not get fascinated by the devil’s allurement to step on the plank of “false feelings and assurances”
Instead let us avoid the plank of transient assurances…
… and “embrace the Rock of Everlasting Refuge!”
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
MOTHER MARY’S VIRGINITY
The Gospel accounts understand the virginal conception of Jesus as a divine work that surpasses all human understanding and possibility: “That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”, said the angel to Joseph about Mary his fiancee.
The Church sees here the fulfilment of the divine promise given through the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son.”
People are sometimes troubled by the silence of St. Mark’s Gospel and the New Testament Epistles about Jesus’ virginal conception. Some might wonder if we were merely dealing with legends or theological constructs not claiming to be history.
To this we must respond: Faith in the virginal conception of Jesus met with the lively opposition, mockery or incomprehension of non-believers, Jews and pagans alike, so it could hardly have been motivated by pagan mythology or by some adaptation to the ideas of the age.
The meaning of this event is accessible only to faith, which understands in it the “connection of these mysteries with one another” in the totality of Christ’s mysteries, from his Incarnation to his Passover.
St. Ignatius of Antioch already bears witness to this connection: “Mary’s virginity and giving birth, and even the Lord’s death escaped the notice of the prince of this world: these three mysteries worthy of proclamation were accomplished in God’s silence. (Cf. CCC # 497-498)