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SUNDAY SCRIPTURES FOR AUGUST 13 | We are called to live a more radical life for Jesus

The storms in our life can prevent us from trusting God and believing Jesus’ promise

We can imagine ourselves as Elijah standing at the opening of the cave, in awe of the storm. Or, we can picture ourselves as the disciples in the boat, being tossed about by a storm. In each, we recognize that it is easier said than done to see Jesus for who He is and allow His presence to calm every storm in our lives.

The disciples in the boat just witnessed the miraculous feeding of thousands of people. The storm, an immediate threat to their lives, quickly erases the power that they experienced and allows their anxiety to take over. I hope that these images offered in the Scriptures touch on some of our own personal experiences. I know they do for me.

It comes down to one thing: We either believe in God’s power and Jesus’ promise and let them affect how we live in the world today, or we don’t. We can profess with all kinds of words what we say we believe. We can worship together as a people of faith, but if that doesn’t lead us to actions that reflect our trust in God, then what is the reason for doing all of this?

As we read this column, we may want to take a look back at the past week. Have there been times that we have failed to trust in God and the promise of Jesus? What was it that kept us from figuratively stepping out of the boat, grasping the hand of Jesus and walking out into that storm? Was it a lack of faith or the doubt in our minds and hearts? Did the storm in our lives remind us of storms in the past where we might have felt abandoned or betrayed by God? Is what is God asking us to let go of too great for us to trust in God?

When Jesus went to the cross, forgave those who killed Him and later rose from the dead, He gave us an image of a radical way of life, instead of a safe way of living. Many of us might have gotten into the habit of believing that our Catholic faith is meant to be lived comfortably, thinking more about our own lives than someone else’s, not counting the consequences of our choices as they affect the rest of humanity.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Protestant minister who was killed during the Holocaust for his radical teaching, wrote about cheap grace and costly grace. He warned Christians of his time about their tendency to take the easy road as they watched Jews being gathered and killed. How many people knew what was happening and still did nothing? Although we might not consider the circumstances of our lives that radical, we are given choices every day to live more radical lives for Jesus. Being rooted in Jesus, we are called to live our lives in a way that will truly make it uncomfortable for us for the sake of others.

Whether we are like Elijah, who is trying to recognize God as God speaks to us, or if we are like Peter, trying to believe that Jesus really is calling him forth, it’s time for us to stop and listen and watch the events of our lives, instead of habitually and numbly walking through life.

Will it take a storm in our lives for us to wake up and notice those around us and cherish them, whether they be family and friends or strangers and enemies? As we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are reminded of what radical grace and radical living looks like. Let it be done to us, according to His word.

Father Donald Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish In St. Peters.

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