When I first read today’s gospel, I prayed with the image of the tassel on Jesus’ cloak (or fringe on his prayer shawl) and the healing that came upon those who as much as touched it. I love the faith and deep desire of those who brought their loved ones to Jesus. Contemporary images of this were kindled by the video I recently watched of “The Maldonado Miracle.”
I later returned to the gospel again with more time and I realized I was avoiding praying with the central story of Jesus and Peter walking on the water. Part of me is put off by the all-too-familiar and fantastic nature miracles. But staying with it, I began to recall saving times and allowed Jesus’ call to reach me again, this time in this new place I find myself in, as a mother of three teenagers!
A particularly vivid memory of my own mother came to mind. She was standing by my bed (this was at the end of my college years, and I lived at home) and I was sobbing uncontrollably. “What are you despairing about? Despair is from the devil,” she pronounced authoritatively. I had broken my wedding engagement after slowly realizing the marriage we were planning would not be life-giving.
This image of my mother’s unwavering faith in the power of God to heal and save had come to me earlier this spring when I faced one of my own teenagers floundering close to despair. I told him the story of Nani’s words to me when I felt so terrible and evil for having caused such pain for my ex-fiancé in our break-up. With the same confident voice of my mother to me and Jesus to Peter, I told him that withdrawing, not speaking to us of his pain was not an option. He must choose a way to tell us what was going on and to allow us to be with him and help him.
Just as my mother must have drawn on her knowledge of God’s love for me, I rallied my faith in the God of Life and healing who so loves my son, to help me be bold in the midst of my own great fear. The worst of the storm of loneliness and confusion is over for my son, for now. The challenge as a parent is to help him and the other boys to grow in self-knowledge and self-acceptance and in their own relationship with Jesus, so they can recognize him out on the stormy waters and desire to go to him with abandon.
Lord, teach me to pray, to deepen my own surrender, and over
the sound of my doubting heart, be able to hear your authoritative
call to risk, to trust, to come.
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