I grew up on a small lake in Michigan. Often during the summer while enjoying boating, swimming and skiing, a storm would blow across the lake. We learned to spot the warning signs such as white caps on the growing waves, the tree leaves at the shoreline would flip over, and the lake itself would turn blue-black. We always knew the ten minute timing to get safely to shore, put our gear away and snap on the boat cover.
Today’s gospel, Matthew 14:22-33, shows us a summer storm. The disciples do not make it to safety, so Jesus walks on the water towards them. In the panic of the disciples, Jesus offers them words of hope once again, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
No matter where we live, we all face various storms we cannot control and many storms we cannot see coming. The warning signs sometimes are not quick enough. One such storm is happening right now. Our country is in the midst of a drug abuse storm where we do not know when it will end. We face an increasing storm of addition to opioids and heroin. The storm is becoming overwhelming for families, including unprecedented numbers of deaths. As part of the storm, grandparents and other relatives are raising thousands of children whose parents are incapacitated from addiction. We are also in a storm of people aging without healthcare, a “gray tsunami.” Other storms that prevail include depression and various forms of mental illness, storms from divorce and infidelity, and the continuing grand threats of war and violence.
As we listen to this gospel story today, we take note of the word, “courage.” Jesus speaks to the disciples, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Courage is not just a grand or heroic notion. “Courage” comes from the Latin word, “cor” which means, “heart”. In French, Sacred Heart is “Sacra Coeur.” In the center of our fear then, we are to invite Jesus into our hearts because his heart will calm us. The Heart of Christ, the Sacred Heart will show us how to navigate our storms. His Heart will reveal to us how to pray and how to live and how to serve. No matter the storms we face in our lifetime, we turn in faith to the one who walks on water to save us. The Sacred Heart of Jesus instills courage within us to move to safety, to travel back to shore with delight and hope. The Sacred Heart also shows us how to walk with people in the storms that may never be stopped or healed. Courage means that we give our hearts to people. Courage invites us to share our hearts with the lost, the forgotten, the orphan and the widow. Courage is heart to heart hope in Jesus.
What are the storms in your life that you can hardly navigate? Take courage. Take heart.