Like the disciples in the Gospel of Matthew, it can feel like we too are in a boat being tossed by wind and waves like a mere toy. We know not how long this tempest will blow or where it will leave us physically, emotionally, economically, or spiritually. We all keep wanting this storm to just “be done,” and blow over. We yearn to get back to our normal lives. The thing with storms, however, is their unpredictable nature and ferocity. Sometimes it takes a mighty storm to clear the air, put things right, and remind us of our feeble nature. Sometimes, God has to do something big to get our attention.
“Normal” is subjective. What we formally knew as “normal” was in fact very abnormal spiritually speaking.
I propose that while we were going about living our “normal” pre-pandemic lives, evil was taking precious ground. With each passing day efforts to normalize sin indoctrinated our minds with catchy mantras, so we would just “go along to get along,” not rocking the boat, least we be called a hater, or worse. We as Catholic Christians were asleep at the wheel blithely unaware as we busied ourselves with our own temporal concerns. We did not pay attention to all the signs of an impending storm. We happily lived life in our own little boats ignoring all the warning signs. And then the outbreak was upon us and everything came to a halt.
Suddenly, the other trivialities of our previous “normal” life did not seem so pressing especially when our boat started taking on water and the visceral fear of drowning loomed heavy. We became focused on survival. The ports were closed. The lighthouse in darkness. There was panic in the air. So, we hunkered down in our little boats afraid. How many of us are still there? Where is God in your storm? Perhaps we are currently so consumed by the erratic nature of this storm that we don’t bother to cry out to God at all. Or worse, we may even think God doesn’t care that we are drowning.
Why doesn’t He do something about this storm that is swirling about making a mess out of my life and future? We literally want to hear the Lord say to us personally, “Take courage it is I; do not be afraid.” Jesus didn’t stop at that, He called Peter out of the perceived safety of the boat. He does the same for us. Do you trust God? Have you entrusted your family, and life to Him? Do you have faith to step out, to live your Catholicism out loud and to reclaim souls for Christ?
Some people are barely treading water. They are trying to outlast a hurricane with little provisions, all on their own. It is too much for us. The casualties are mounting. This has strained the best of marriages, taken a personal toll within our young people, and allowed the spirit of the enemy to actively spread discouragement, fear, and confusion.
What are we called to do as Catholic Christians? Put on the armor of God and fight. Step out of the safety of the boat into the arms of Christ who died that you might live. Reach out to someone who is overwhelmed, alone, in need of the Good News. We have the antidote. We don’t have the luxury anymore to quietly surrender to the “you be you” mantra. We have what the world needs. We have the One who can calm any storm, bring clarity to confusion, and light up the darkness. We must stop living in fear of “offending someone.” It is because we care about their eternal soul and love them, that we must at least try. “You seem overwhelmed, can I pray with you?” Sadly, these words can strike fear in most Catholics. “Do you want to talk? I am here to listen. I know God has a solution.” It means we share our faith. We share our own stories of struggles and fear and the Good News of what God has done in our life. It is not talking at someone. It is listening and sharing. It is throwing a drowning person a life saver. “I see you are drowning; how can I help?”
At this time in history, there is no place for lukewarm, fearful, or hypocritical Catholics. We were made for greatness; to be saints. That work is done here and now. If not now, when? We are made battle ready when we go to the sacraments. Jesus says to each of us, “Come.” Step out into the unknown. “Take courage, it is I,” and I AM right here by your side.
I will close with these compelling words of Venerable Fulton Sheen,
“Since the basic cause of man’s anxiety is the possibility of being either a saint or a sinner, it follows that there are only two alternatives for him. Man can either mount upward to the peak of eternity or else slip backwards to the chasms of despair and frustration. Yet there are many who think there is yet another alternative, namely, that of indifference… By the mere fact that we do not go forward, we go backward. There are no plains in the spiritual life, we are either going uphill or coming down. Furthermore, the pose of indifference is only intellectual. The will must choose. And even though an “indifferent” soul does not positively reject the infinite, the infinite rejects it. The talents that are unused are taken away, and the Scriptures tell us that, “But because though art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:16).”