I have been having a discussion for the last week with Gretchen Fundinger, a high school friend, about her health. She has been very anxious about the coronavirus and has been sick with symptoms similar to COVID-19. I tried to be comforting and encouraged her to be tested. She did. This morning I woke up to a private message from her telling me that she had tested negative and thanking me for walking with her on that journey (my pleasure). In that message, Gretchen said “like the Lord stilling the waters, you gave me calm and strength…”
In response to that image, I told Gretchen this story: Right after I was ordained to the priesthood, a friend of mine name Karen was diagnosed with a particularly nasty cancer. Soon after her diagnosis, I preached at her parish about Jesus' ability to calm the storms in our lives. (The Gospel reading was Mark 4:35-41, Jesus calming the stormy sea). Fast forward a year: Karen died after a big fight with that cancer. Her husband called and told me she wanted me to preach her funeral and that she had chosen Jesus calming the sea as her funeral Gospel. So I did. She had 2 teen daughters. All of their high school friends were at the funeral and I was blessed to help them with that same message that apparently had been help for Karen. After the funeral, Karen’s husband have me a gift from Karen: It was a small glass sculpture on which were carved the words "Peace, be still." Karen had had it made as a reminder when her cancer got really bad that Jesus calms the storm. She had written me a card saying that she had always intended me to have it when she died and how much comfort those words and that homily had been for the last year. I really believe in the idea that Jesus calms the storms of our life!
That facebook messenger exchange took place at around 6:30 this morning. Fast forward to later this morning: I watched the Holy Father’s extraordinary Urbi et Orbi blessing from St. Peter’s Basilica. I was moved to tears by the “coincidence “ of the Holy Father using that same Marcan Gospel text as the basis for his reflection.
It seems Pope Francis also wants us to understand Jesus’ ability to calm the stormy seas that upset us: “ Like the disciples, we will experience that with him on board there will be no shipwreck. Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.”
Gretchen, I am so happy you do not have COVID and I hope you keep getting better. Thank you, Lord, for calming all the storms which cause us fear and anxiety and for giving us the grace to trust in you
The Joyful Friar
These are the everyday musings and reflections from the life of Father Bart Hutcherson, OP, a Catholic Priest and Dominican Friar from the Western United States. I toyed with the idea of using the title "Ordinary Time" for this blog, but was afraid that people might be looking for deep liturgical reflections under that title. Nothing so sublime here - just the day-to-day. My friend, Carrie Rehak, suggested the title "The Everyday Mysteries." I love it. it captures my understanding of the everyday. God makes himself known in the everyday. I hope he reveals himself in some of these reflections too.