Rock’n the boat


By Deacon Bill Hagen
For the Umatuna Si Yu’os

A reflection on the Tuesday, July 2, 2019 Gospel according to Matthew 8:23-27

As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us!  We are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. The men were amazed and said, “What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?”

This Gospel reminds me of a painting I once saw which depicts this gospel perfectly.

There is a wooden boat with about five or six men in it. And there is a darkness in much of the painting, the boat shows signs of damage as the sails are torn and flapping in the wind, and the boom has come lose from the mast and the oars are broken. The seas are enormous with waves towering above the boat preparing to break on the terrified men.

The artist’s great skill lets us look into the eyes of the men and we can see the terror on their faces as they look at the huge waves about to fall on them and foresee their boat filling with water, overturning and casting them into the sea at any minute. Several men are frantically bailing water, but clearly, they are not keeping up with the water pouring in over the sides of their boat. They fully anticipate their death by drowning at any moment.

Then we see Jesus.

In the upper right hand of this painting is an illuminated area showing the stern, or back of the boat, with Jesus peacefully sleeping on a cushion. He is dry and there is no sign of concern on his face. And we know that any moment, he will be awakened by these terrified men in fear for their lives.

How do we respond when the wind blows and upsets our plans, challenging our lives, and how long do we wait before calling upon Jesus to help us?  Do we wait and then frantically make a 9-1-1 prayer crying out, “Help me Jesus,” or are we in daily conversation with our Lord sharing our concerns and seeking his guidance and strength, knowing that he is always there looking out for us? 

”O’ Lord, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.”

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