LORD, HELP US!
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 21, 2015
When I was much, much younger, I often sailed with a very close friend. I was not a skilled crew member, although I was quick to obey orders. One year, probably too early in the season to even be boating, we eagerly motored out from the dock and into the Detroit River, bound for Lake St. Clair, eager for the first sail of the year. It was a sunny spring afternoon and there was a good wind. We raised the mainsail, killed the outboard motor, and were thrilled to be underway. As we approached Hart Plaza in the “heart” of downtown Detroit, there was a lake freighter just ahead of us. No worries! At least not until we tried to “come about” (change direction) in order to avoid a collision with the ship. It was at this point that rudder came completely out of the brackets that held it to the transom. So, “the skipper” started pulling frantically on the outboard engine, but it was flooded. It would not start.
In the meantime, the mainsail was flapping out of control and we were being tossed around, caught up in the wake of the enormous ship which seemed to be getting bigger and bigger with every passing second. We were clearly on a collision course and there was nothing we could do to avoid it. I was absolutely certain that we would die. It was then that I called out at the top of my voice and in total desperation: “LORD, HELP US!”
It wasn’t a storm that put us in peril. It was our own negligence. But, like the disciples in today’s Gospel, it was Jesus whom I called to save us. And it really was as if Jesus responded by standing up in the middle of the boat, and, shouting over the wind and the deafening sound of the freighter’s enormous engines and the rush of the water, He said: “QUIET! BE STILL!” He was speaking to me!
That urgent prayer, entrusting us to Christ, brought an unexpected and undeserved calm over me. I felt a wave wash over me. Not cold and threatening river water, but rather, the warm and reassuring PEACE OF CHRIST! The only Peace that is powerful enough to calm the most violent of storms…fear! I continued to follow orders, rather than following my instinct to simply jump overboard to certain death. With the next pull, the outboard roared into life. We then turned our attention to the rudder, and, defying the laws of physics, were able to jockey it into its mounting. With a last-minute course change, we just missed a horrible collision.
That day, on the Detroit River, there was a miracle as certain as the one reported to have occurred on the Sea of Galilee. While it probably isn’t appropriate to rank miracles, the one I experienced might arguably have been even more powerful than Jesus calming a storm. I say that because we have free will…nature doesn’t. Our terror storms can defy or resist the calming Peace of Christ! Nature obeys.
But when we temper our human nature with faith and call out with complete trust and from the depths of our hearts…LORD, HELP US! ….well…expect a miracle!