From Your Pastors
Embedded within the imagination of our scriptures are the storms of life, actual and metaphorical. From Job to the Psalms, to the gospel from this past Sunday’s liturgy, the experience of storms and the role of the Divine abound. During the pandemic, many of us lived through levels of anxiety and uncertainty over our personal well-being, as well as the realities our communities and world face. Sometime our faith carried us, other times it may have waivered or even seemed to fail us.
We see these storms raging within religious communities that share a common history and purpose as well. The worldwide United Methodist Church is poised to vote this September on division into multiple church bodies. The Southern Baptist Convention has recently elected a new president with a narrow majority of support with many opposed to the outcome threatening to leave the denomination. A group of American bishops in the USCCB is at odds with the leadership of Pope Francis and the search for a common ground in reconciling political and religious life. As pastors, we see these tensions close to home when we receive feedback in response to our pastoral reflections offered here in the Link. Our common pilgrimage may seem at times to be a series of contradictions and conflicts. In Thoughts on Solitude (1958) Thomas Merton wrote: “We are not meant to resolve all contradictions but to live with them and to rise above them.”
This past Sunday’s gospel Mark 4 might provide us with a framework when experiencing the tensions and uncertainties both internally and in our various circles of relationship. In the midst of a sudden storm on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples rush to Jesus who restores calm by his sovereign presence. Even as they question his care for them, Jesus hears their fear, responds and then calls them to faith. Our vocation as disciples of Jesus the Christ is one of a growing intimacy with God through Jesus. This is how we best understand ourselves in all our complexities, gifts and deficiencies. There will be storms in our personal lives and tempests among us which demand our attention. Perhaps we Christians forget that here, in the barque of faith, is Jesus, sovereign Lord, whose life, death and resurrection are the very source of our resilience and hope. Perhaps if we turned more deeply to Jesus in our neediness, we might come to a deeper experience of the Divine calm even in moments and days of distress.
Fr. Michael Callaghan, c.o. and Fr. Mark Lane, c.o.