The beautiful narrative of Jesus and the apostles on a boat in stormy waters is a common image representing the early Church. Like the apostles on the boat facing a gale and strong waves, the early Christians were facing rough seas all around them. At the time this gospel was written, around the year 70AD, the early Church was facing persecution in Jerusalem and in Rome. It seemed that after all, Jesus had gone to sleep, totally oblivious of all that the disciples were going through.
Like the Church has done throughout the ages, the apostles run to the ‘absent’ Jesus crying out: Do you not care? We are going to drown and you are enjoying your sleep! Jesus’ reply is to instantly calm the wind and the waves, and to chastise the disciples: How is it that you still have no faith! How is it that you still do not believe that I am the Son of God and have authority over the wind and the sea. As God tells Jonah in the first reading, after all, who created the sea and set its limits?
We too are often faced with these same issues. We often look around us and wonder whether Jesus has abandoned his Church. Has he really gone to sleep again? Do we really believe that Jesus has the power to calm the storms of our life if only we were to trust in him?
In November 1930 Joseph De Piro accompanied the Daughters of the Sacred Heart Sisters from Tas-Samra, Hamrun Malta, to the Addolorata Cemetery, Malta’s main cemetery. Here he delivered a sermon saying, amongst other things:
“We need to live together in order to be able to help one another. Indeed, in the Catholic Church, we are lucky to have the grace to be illuminated by the same doctrine of Jesus Christ, to share the same faith in Jesus Christ, to have the same hope in the merits of the Blood of Jesus Christ. These bind us together to form the pilgrim Church. Through charity and God’s love, besides being united among ourselves, we are also united with the saints in heaven, who form the triumphant Church. Through charity we are also united to the souls in purgatory who form the purgative Church. St Paul reminds us that we are ‘God’s relatives and fellow citizens with the Saints;’ we can likewise say that we are friends and sisters and brothers of those in purgatory. We obtain graces through the intercession of the saints while those in purgatory are aided by our prayers.”