Thought for the Day – 2 July – Tuesday of the Thirteenth Week, Year C – Today’s Gospel: Matthew 8:23-37
The Anguish of an Absence
by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)
And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord, we are perishing.”
There is a Gospel scene which in an extraordinary way anticipates the silence of Holy Saturday and which again, therefore, seems to be a profile of the moment in history we are living now. Christ is asleep on a boat which, buffeted by a storm, is about to sink.
The prophet Elijah had once made fun of the priests of Baal who were futilely invoking their god to send down fire on their sacrifice. He urged them to cry out louder in case their god was asleep.
But is it true that God does not sleep? Does not the prophet’s scorn also fall upon the heads of the faithful of the God of Israel who are sailing with Him in a boat about to sink? God sleeps while His very own are about to drown – is not this the experience of our lives? Don’t the Church, the faith, resemble a small boat about to sink, struggling futilely against the waves and the wind and all the time God is absent? The disciples cry out in dire desperation and they shake the Lord to wake Him but He is surprised at this and rebukes them, for their small faith. But are things any different for us? When the storm passes we will realise just how much this small faith of ours was charged with stupidity.
And yet, O Lord, we cannot help shaking You, God, You who persist in keeping Your silence, in sleeping and we cannot help crying to You – Wake up, can’t You see we are sinking? Stir Yourself, don’t let the darkness of Holy Saturday last forever, let a ray of Easter fall, even on these times of ours, accompany us when we set out in our desperation towards Emmaus so that our hearts may be enflamed by the warmth of Your nearness.
You who, hidden, charted the paths of Israel only to become a man in the end with men – don’t leave us in the dark, don’t let Your word be lost in these days of great squandering of words.
Lord, grant us Your help, because without You we will sink. Amen