4th Sunday after Epiphany 29 January 2023 God is close
The apostles did not seem to do much wrong here, insofar as they were in trouble [storm at sea] and they asked for divine help to escape that trouble.
We do this ourselves, every day probably.
Our Lord did not mind that they asked. He wants us to ask for things that we need : Ask and you shall receive (Mt 7,7); and many other places, eg 1 Jn 3,22; Mk 11,24.
The problem in this case seems to be that they were asking without faith, letting their fear override their confidence in Our Lord. They had already seen countless miracles so why doubt this one?
Would Our Lord have let the boat sink, and everyone drowns? Not likely.
They thought He had forgotten them, which is what most of the human race thinks when it comes to God.
But it can never be so, that He would forget us… I have carved you on the palm of my hand (Is 49,15-16).
He may not tell us everything; He may leave us some things to dwell on; but He will never ignore one who calls upon Him.
In our sinful state, God will appear even more mysterious because sin clouds the mind. But as far as remoteness goes, it is we who are remote if anyone is.
Today let us consider the ways in which God makes Himself close to us, and how He encourages us to call upon His help.
He is present to us first of all in the Eucharist, the equivalent of having Him stand next to us, or even dwell within us. It is His strongest mode of presence to His disciples.
Then there is His word which gives life, sustaining us in all our troubles.
Then He is present through His general influence on us, helping us to have the right thoughts, desires, attitudes etc, whereby we become better and stronger people.
This influence is what we call grace; it can come through prayer, sacraments and good works, and will enable us to deal with crises (like sinking boats) with faith and not fear.
We want to feel His presence as strongly as we can, so we make use of whatever method of reaching Him that presents itself.
We have as much possession of Him as the apostles had. But we must be prepared to search a little.
It does depend a lot on attitude of each person.
Two people could both pray, or receive Holy Communion, or do a charitable act, yet one will benefit more than the other because he has a better attitude.
The attitudes required: humility, charity, trust, genuine sorrow for sin etc
The more of these things we have the more we are talking Our Lord’s language, and the closer He will seem to us.
Another element is that of suffering. To be really close to Our Lord we share in His sufferings. We do not ask only for an easy ride, though it is always possible to ask for relief from suffering.
However, as we come closer to the Lord we develop the ability to suffer with Him, a suffering which is one of the demands of charity.
He will make Himself known to us in the midst of our sufferings. He will not abandon us, no matter how great the adversity seems.
The Apostles went through other tests and generally failed, at least until the time of the Cross and Resurrection. Then they reached a new level of union with Our Lord and never again thought He had abandoned them.
We are each out there somewhere, straggling along the highway. Let us take this opportunity to call on the Lord for help, not in panic but in trust.