Why Are You Afraid?

Dear Friends,

I have to admit: I get the disciples’ reaction to the storm at sea. “Why are you afraid?” Jesus asks. I want to answer, “Um. Gee. Maybe because the boat is taking on water and we’re being knocked all over the place and could go overboard or sink at any moment.” I think the real question goes to Jesus: “Why are you asleep?  How can you possibly sleep with all this going on?” And that, of course, takes us closer to the point of the story. Amid the chaos and the ups and downs of life, Jesus is at peace. The disciples, on the other hand, are anxious and worried and unmoored.

Bishop Barron offers one symbolic way of interpreting this story. Jesus, he says, “stands in this story for the divine power that is ‘asleep’ within all of us, indeed within the very confines of the ego. He symbolizes that divine energy that remains unaffected by the fear-storms generated by the grasping ego.”

In other words, we can live rooted in our ego, which is to live in fear. We’ll be tossed all over the place by every storm that comes our way. (Heck, the ego will generate storms where there need not be storms.) Or we an awaken to the presence of Christ within us. There will still be the inevitable storms of life, but we will be rooted in trust in the divine power within us.

“Peace! Be still!” These are Jesus’ words to us all. Let go of the ego mind, the mind of fear. And experience a change of heart—a heart filled with awareness of the power of the divine within. Such a change of heart is necessary, says Barron, for living in the kingdom of God.

Peace and every good,

Father Liam

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