29 January 2010

Avoiding Shipwrecks

We’re familiar with the Gospel accounts of when Jesus stepped into a boat and His disciples followed; and then a great storm arose which caused the disciples to be fearful, while through it all Jesus slept. And finally the disciples woke Him up and He calmed the storm (Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-40, & Luke 8:22-25). Saint Augustine splendidly applies these Gospel accounts to the storms of life which we all face from time-to-time. Here’s what he wrote.

Have you received an insult, it is the wind: are you provoked to anger, it is the buffeting of the waves. As the wind rises, and the waves mount up, your ship is in peril; your heart is buffeted by waves, your soul is endangered. Swift on the insult you are eager for revenge: and lo you are revenged, and yielding to a new disaster, you are shipwrecked. And why? Because in you Christ sleeps. What does this mean: in you Christ sleeps? It means you have forgotten Christ. Then awaken Christ, bring Him to mind; let Christ keep watch in you: look upon Him.

What was it you desired? To be revenged. Has it gone from your memory what He said while they crucified Him: Father, forgive them for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34). He Who was sleeping in your heart sought not to be revenged. Awaken Him, remember Him. Remembrance of Him is remembrance of His words: and to remember Him is to obey Him. And should Christ awaken in you, you will say to yourself: What kind of man am I that I should seek to be revenged? Who am I that I should utter threats against another?

It may be that I shall die before I can be revenged. And when breathing my last, on fire with anger, thirsting for revenge, I go forth from this body, He shall not receive me Who desired no revenge: He shall not receive me Who said: Forgive, and you shall be forgiven. Give, and it shall be given unto you (Luke 6:37-38). Therefore shall I bridle my anger, and return to the peace of my heart. Christ commanded the sea, and there came a great calm.