“Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side…” The image of a boat is use throughout Scripture to indicate how God assists his people to journey from one state of life to another. A state of life that remains under the watchful and gentle care of the One who invites us to seek him, to long for him, to come to him, to find him graciously waiting for us on the other side. Those who choose to embark on the journey will find themselves forever transformed. They will find themselves in a new place, with a new beginning, with an endless opportunity to commune with God. Consider how Noah and his family traveled with God’s creatures in a boat and with the help of God’s grace they survived the great flood. After the long and difficult journey, they found themselves in a land freed from the devastation of sin; a place cleansed from evil – a new day, a new beginning, a new life, a better place. Or consider the moment Jesus called the disciples from their boat, from their livelihood, from their family. Their lives were transformed from ordinary, simple fisherman to great fishers of men. Or consider when the disciples found themselves on a boat being tossed about in a violent storm. Jesus met them along the way and transformed their fears, their doubts, their frustration, their distress into a place of peace. Or consider how Jesus would often teach the great crowds from a boat piercing their hearts with his words, his preaching, his teaching. He melted their stony hearts then fed the hungry, cured the sick, restored their dignity, brought them to a better place. Or consider how after hearing the sad news of John the Baptist’s death, Jesus went away in a boat by himself to a deserted place. As he floats along the water, he goes to the Father; he shares his grief. The journey transforms his current situation. He grieves, he cries, he prayers, he is strengthened; he continues his own journey to the Cross. The boat is symbolic of our journey. At times we may encounter a violent storm or an endless sunny day. We may encounter a flood or a smooth sailing along the way. We may even find ourselves in unfamiliar waters or waters that are gentle, calm, reflective, healing. In either case, the trip is worth taking because what awaits us on the other side is a loving smile, a welcome home, the kiss of peace, our loving Father. May His peace be with you always.
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time