"A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, 'Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?' He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, 'Quiet! Be still!' The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, 'Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?'” Mk 4: 37-40
Though we know that sudden squalls were common on the Sea of Galilee, this passage, like so many others, is not simply about a storm at sea. Jesus knew that all kinds of violence would visit his disciples and he wanted them to be ready for them. He and his followers would be laughed at, ridiculed and threatened. Would his disciples run away from the struggle and from him? Would they posture about being unafraid and try to convince the Lord and themselves that they would follow him everywhere?
Little has changed for Christians, especially for those who want to grow in discipleship. There are innumerable reasons to turn away from a life of faith and especially from the Catholic church. As Pope Francis has reminded us recently, we have sometimes been so focused on a few key issues, especially about sex and sexuality, that we can lose sight of the larger Gospel picture that Jesus paints, and when this happens we open ourselves to hurtful and challenging criticism. Tempted at times like this to seek a different path, we need to pray not to forget all that people of faith and our church does and promotes.
As we near the end of January we ought to remember that January is Poverty Awareness Month, a time to remember that 46 million Americans live in poverty and that 1.6 million children spent time in a shelter or emergency housing last year. In response to these devastating numbers, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, working with local communities and the poor themselves, has sponsored more than 8000 community based projects over the past forty years that are designed to chip away at the awful specter of poverty in the United States. In truth, there are many more reasons to be proud of our faith tradition than to turn away from it.
Today, face the squalls in your life head on and work together with others for the common good.
Why do you stay in the Catholic church?