Memorial of Saint John Vianney, priest
(Jeremiah 28:1-17; Matthew 14:22-36)
A man tells of a particularly trying time. His wife was just diagnosed with cancer, and he felt his world crumbling. He had the responsibility of closing his parish church every night and this night he stopped in his rounds with a plea for mercy. Then, he says, he felt what seemed like an arm grasping him around the back and a voice telling him that everything will be okay, not to worry. How else could the man interpret this experience except as a divine intervention? He felt like the apostles in today’s gospel after seeing the Lord Jesus.
The passage is often taken as an allegory for the early Church in crisis. Jesus is risen and ascended into heaven. The nascent Church, symbolized by the little boat, is having great difficulty, perhaps from persecution or maybe from internal disputes. The stormy sea represents primordial, destructive forces that always threaten human projects with annihilation. But the Lord, who seemed to the apostles to be absent, is actually on his way to help them. He tells them not worry. He even bids their leader to act boldly in face of the chaos.
Just as much as forces of destruction are constantly threatening the order of creation, we should realize that Jesus, whom Peter rightly identifies in the passage as “Lord,” stands on guard. He will help us, but let us not forget in our distress to call on him.