This is a syndicated post from Daily Meditations with Fr. Alfonse. [Read the original article...]
After the Five thousand had eaten and were satisfied, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And when he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray. When it was evening, the boat was far out on the sea and he was alone on shore. Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them…He meant to pass by them.
They were satisfied. We are typically satisfied when we get what we want. When we don’t, we can easily get frustrated and upset.
After the five thousand had eaten and were satisfied, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat. The Lord’s disciples got into the boat content, satisfied. They had had their fill. What was missing? What was there to fear? They were in the Lord’s presence. They could touch Him and see Him. What else could they ask for? They had witnessed a miracle. They had seen the fruits of their labor. What else could anyone ever ask for?
But now, the Lord tells them to leave Him, to get into a boat and to journey “solo”. As the Lord went off to pray, his disciples encountered a storm.
They were being tossed about. So what did the disciples do? They rowed even harder. That’s not bad. That’s a very good thing. But what they failed to do, and is not mentioned at all, is pray. They failed to pray. They had not understood the incident of the loaves.
The Lord always prayed: before storms, during storms and after storms. He prayed before every miracle, during every miracle and after every miracle. He prayed alone and in the presence of shouting fans and jeering critics. The Lord prayed everywhere: near mountains and in the middle of crowded streets in Jerusalem.
What’s important to note is that He prayed even though He is Lord.
The Lord meant to pass by them. To me, this is the most important verse in today’s passage. Why would the Lord do that to them? Didn’t He see that the disciples were struggling in the boat without Him? Didn’t He hear their calls for help? He did. In fact, He was with them, even if He was not in the boat.
Why did the disciples doubt? Why did their hearts grow weary? Or worse, why did their hearts harden? Because everywhere they went, they expected to see a miracle. With every labor of love, they expected to see good fruits. With every person they met, they expected to see an immediate conversion. With every step they took, they expected to see the hand and face of God, literally!
This is not so foreign to us. We always expect to get what we deserve. We always expect to have our prayers answered with a “yes”. We always expect a thank you after a good deed is done.
Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid. The Apostles needed to mature in their faith, for they had not understood the incident of the loaves. This “boat incident” was “boot camp”. It was time for the apostles to get used to the fact that they would have to rely on faith and prayer, not on sight and sounds. It was time for them to learn to not rely on their senses and satisfactions, but on Him and His promises.
And learn they did. They accomplished all they set out to do, without glamour, glitz or glee but rather with profundity and understanding.
What they had most to learn was that the Lord is always with them, regardless of whether or not they are being accepted or rejected, hugged or crucified. The Lord is always with them, in the boat and during the storm, seen or unseen. He loves them. He loves us. The apostles had nothing to fear. We have nothing to fear. All He asks is that we do exactly what He asks. Was He not the one who told them to get into the boat? Was He not the one who told them to go before Him? So, why did they doubt? Why did they struggle?
Because they did not pray.