Persevering with Hope

As we journey together through the solemn days of Lent, the Alliance for Catholic Education and ThinkND invite you to join us as we walk toward the light that our faith tells us lies ahead.

Join us for Grace Period, a weekly series of audio reflections by Fr. Lou DelFra, C.S.C. ’92, M. Div. ’03, designed to meet your busy schedule and help you pause, listen for God’s voice in your life, and begin anew.

How we can persevere with hope when it seems like Christ is absent during our time of need?

We look to the Gospel of Mark, when a furious squall threatens to sink the disciples’ boat as Jesus sleeps.

Was Christ powerless against the squall? Did he not care?

Jesus was showing them (and us) what it’s like to trust, even in a storm, that we have a God who has our lives—and all that happens within them — securely in hand.

The more we can allow this bedrock spiritual reality to settle into our souls, the more calm and hopeful we can be in the midst of life’s storms.

INTRO:
Hi. I’m Fr. Lou DelFra,
Director of Pastoral Life for the Alliance for Catholic Education
at the University of Notre Dame.

Welcome to Grace Period,
a weekly series of audio reflections designed for you…

to help you pause,
in the midst of the stresses of these days,
listen for God’s voice in your lives,
and begin anew.

___

Last week, we watched Peter, focused on Christ, being filled with courage, and walking his way through the storm.
Peter was able to do this for one reason – he could see Jesus in the midst of the storm, more powerful than the storm.

But what happens when, as we all experience sometimes, we can’t see Jesus in the midst of a storm?
How do we persevere in hope, when it seems as if the one who gives us hope, is not around?

Mark’s Gospel provides a different account of the storm that speaks to this very experience.

In Mark’s version, the disciples are making the passage across the Sea, when suddenly “a furious squall rose up, waves began to crash over the boat, so that they were in danger of sinking” – and then a rather mysterious detail:
“and Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.”
It is an image that mirrors for us an experience we have all had:
A crisis has arisen in our lives; we have come to believe, like the disciples, that Jesus is our companion in our life’s journey … and yet we experience him nowhere in our crisis.
Where is he? Is he powerless? Does he not care? Did we make a mistake in trusting him?
These questions that inevitably rise up can intensify our fear and confusion.

Mark’s image is so apt – here we are in a squall, and Jesus is asleep!
What are we to think of Jesus sleeping as our world is rocked?
Or, do we dare ask the question: what are we to learn from Jesus as he sleeps?

I think of a time when I was on a cross-country flight. The captain came on with the dreaded words: we would be encountering some “significant turbulence.”
As the plane entered its first minor tremors, my body began to tense.
As the bumps intensified, my hands tightened around the armrests, my knuckles whitened, the bargaining with God began.

As the plane rose and dropped, rose and dropped, on the wind gusts, there I was with the disciples on the sea, caught in a squall …
I looked across the aisle,
And there in the seat across from me was a mom, holding her baby … and the baby … in the midst of all this turbulence … was asleep, with the most delightful, contented smile, on her mother’s chest.
And the deep truth of this Gospel passage swept over me.

Jesus was not indifferent, or unconcerned, or powerless.
He was doing what he was always doing when he was with his disciples –
Showing them what life in his Father’s kingdom is like.
And this day, showing them what it’s like to trust, even in a storm, that we have a God who has our life, and all that happens within it, totally in hand.
The more we can allow this bedrock spiritual reality to settle into our souls, the more calm and hopeful we can be in the midst of life’s storms.

Of course, part of being human is that we can’t always feel such total trust.
Jesus himself experienced such an absence, from his own storm, his Cross.
He taught us a completely valid prayer in such moments: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
If expressing such words is difficult for you, pick up Psalm 5 and pray “Hear my words O Lord, and my cry for help”
Or Psalm 13 “How long Lord? Have you forgotten me?”

Jesus teaches us that such cries are, at their core, prayers of faith, in a God who is always with us, even when we cannot experience that Presence.
These prayers have the power to bring us back into real, if mysterious, relationship with God.
After Jesus’ plea from the Cross, an experience of complete reassurance: “Into your hands, I entrust my Spirit.”
For us in the storm: “And Jesus got up, rebuked the wind, and it was completely calm.”

OUTRO:
Join us next week on Grace Period, as we continue to grow as witnesses to hope and trust, in the midst of life’s storms.


Religion and PhilosophyAlliance for Catholic EducationGrace PeriodHopeJesusLentNew testamentNoah's ArkPrayerSaint PeterUniversity of Notre Dame

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