The words of Jesus in today’s Gospel; “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid.” Courage or fortitude is considered to be one of the Christian cardinal virtues. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines it as; “The moral virtue that ensures firmness in the difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good…it enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions…” (CCC.1808)
However, many times we get discouraged because things didn’t go our ways. We get discouraged because our plans did not succeed. We get discouraged, praying all day, with no answer yet. We get discouraged because of the challenges in our marriages, businesses and jobs. We get discouraged in our family problems. We get discouraged in our health and in too many things. Even in our world today we get still get discourage. Some people get discouraged and abandoned God. But we must know that God has his own plan for us. We may feel discouraged but God never abandon his people. God hears the prayers of the broken-hearted. We must go with the encouraging words of Jesus today; “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid.”
Jesus himself experienced his own fears and worries. He was alone on the cross, as if the Father abandoned him. Yet, he was never discouraged but cried out to his Father; ‘ABBA FATHER’ Jesus trusted His Father in heaven. He had the courage to say Father, let your will be done. How often do we cry out to God in prayer when faced with our fears and worries? In all his trials and temptations Jesus was never discouraged; rather, he went up to the mountain, the dwelling place of prayer to pray and to gain strength, power, grace, wisdom, understanding, and discernment.
When we face such challenges and worries, let us also go up to that mountain of the tabernacle, the place where Christ is present, the Church, to pray, to receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, to seek strength and understanding, wisdom and guidance, to build our faith and trust in him. The giant in you, Jesus, is bigger than the giant in front of you.
In the gospel story, his disciples were terrified and afraid, why?, because they saw the unexpected, what they have not seen before, the divine power of God at work in Jesus, the miracle of Jesus walking on the sea, and they said; "It is a ghost,” and they cried out in fear and trembling. That was the very moment Jesus spoke to them to be still and take courage. At times, when the extraordinary things begin to happen in our lives, we are afraid like the disciples today. In his test of Jesus, Peter said to him, "Lord, if it is you, command me also to come to you on the water." Jesus said to him; "Come." Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But Peter lost sight of Jesus because of his external worries and challenges. He allows everything to take over his mind, then, there was a problem, a strong wind came and Peter was afraid, and begins to sink. Then he cried out to Jesus; “Lord, save me.” And Jesus came to his rescue.
That moment also in our lives when we are tossed with the strong wind of failures, disappointments, difficulties, stress, sickness, felt abandoned, discouraged, frightened and we lost sight of Jesus, then we begin to sink too.
We must learn to turn to Jesus in our struggles, to trust him, to express our faith, to walk up to him to that mountain of prayer, the house of God, the Church where God dwells, to pray like Jesus, and like Peter to cry out in a laud voice; “Lord save me.”
Jesus calls us today to listen, to have faith, to trust and to obey. In the midst of trials and tribulations, the Lord extends his hands to us and saves us. He calms our frightened hearts through his quiet presence. Let us keep our hearts fixed on Jesus, the Creator of heaven and Earth.
God is good…all the time.
God bless you.
Fr. Daniel E. Ogbeifun