Do Not Be Afraid

08-13-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp, V.F.

Today’s liturgy assures that Jesus is with us even when the storms of life try to hit from different sides. We should focus our eyes on Jesus who always comes to our aid. We should not only turn to him when we are in need or when we are in big trouble but should always go to him at every time as a child goes to the mother all the time. Let us not forget that Jesus awaits for us to come to him with our joys, sorrows, challenges, fears and troubles.

There was an incident in Los Angeles in the early 70s. Shortly after 6:00am on the morning of Tuesday, February 9, 1971, all of Los Angeles awoke at the same time. A sudden earthquake struck. It lasted less than a minute, but in an instant 62 people were dead and millions of dollars of damage had been done. Two hospitals collapsed and a freeway was tossed about like a plastic toy. That morning many more prayers than usual were directed to heaven. Many more people went to church and prayers were offered from every part of the world. One commentator seeing what had happened, used an expression that came out of World War II “there are no atheists in foxholes” and there are none in earthquakes either. Johnny Carson, in his show that night, made this comment “The meeting of the God-Is- Dead Society has been cancelled.” It is surprising that people turn to God during an earthquake or big problem, but it must be disappointing to God if that is virtually the only time they pray. Prayer is not some last-ditch effort to ward off an impending evil. Prayer should be seeking for God in all the circumstances of our life, even the ordinary simple ones.

In today’s gospel we see Peter learn a lesson today, when he asked Jesus to let him walk on the water; he wanted Him to suspend the laws of nature. He wanted a miracle as a sign that it was really Jesus. But because his faith was not solid, neither was the water beneath his feet. Then he really prayed. Peter made two mistakes, the first was to think that he could find Jesus only in miracles and the second was that his faith was very weak, so weak that he thought to turn Jesus only in time of emergency. The experience of Peter has shown that many remember God only when in an emergency or in crisis moment. Whereas when everything is going on well it is very easy to forget about God. Thus, prayer then becomes for us something of a last resort.

Jesus teaches us that prayer must be a habitual part of our life in all times and all circumstances. A child does not turn to his parents only when he is in big trouble. He is completely dependent on them and somehow knows that all good things come from them. He looks to his parents for food, when he is hungry, he runs to them for comfort when he has skinned his knee or felt hurt. Above all, he wants to feel that he belongs, that he has their love and interest all the time. Such should be our relationship to God our Father. He wants us to turn to him in prayer in all the circumstances of our lives, not merely when we are in big trouble. We should not need something like an earthquake to shake us into a realization of our need for prayer. We should pray to God everyday in times of trouble and in times of prosperity.

Fr. Tony Okolo C.S.Sp., V.F.