2 August, Tuesday — Getting out of the boat

Aug 2 – Memorial for St. Eusebius of Vercelli, bishop; St Peter Julian Eymard, bishop

Eusebius (283-371) was a priest and lector in Rome, Italy. He was consecrated bishop of Vercelli, Italy in 340, but was exiled to Palestine and Cappadocia due to his struggle against Arianism. He was a friend of St. Athanasius of Alexandria. He was a prolific writer, according to his contemporaries, but none of his works have survived. He was the first bishop to live with and follow the same rule as his priests. He may be been martyred by Arians, but reports vary. Many consider him a martyr as he may have died as a result of his sufferings in exile.

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Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1868) had a strong Marian devotion, and travelled to the assorted Marian shrines and apparition sites in France. He organised lay societies under the direction of the Marists, preached and taught, and worked for Eucharistic devotion. He felt a call to found a new religious society, and founded the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament and the lay Servants of the Blessed Sacrament. His work encountered a series of setbacks, including having to close his nascent houses and move twice, and the houses not being able to support themselves financially. However, his vision of priests, deacons, sisters, and lay people dedicated to the spiritual values celebrated in the Mass and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament anticipated many of the renewals brought about by Vatican Councils I and II.

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Jer 30:1-2,12-15,18-22
Mt 14:22-36

Come, why did you doubt?

A few years ago, a group of us went to Majodi for a retreat. When I signed up, I had no idea what it was about. The title intrigued me. I was at a point in my spiritual journey when I just about gave up trying to understand Jesus. This faith journey was just too hard. I felt complete and utter emptiness. I just coasted along and hoped for the best.

I had no expectations of the retreat. Only that God, in His infinite love and mercy, might steer me towards a direction. The retreat was short, not intense. Days leading up to the retreat, Jesus was already preparing me. He blessed me with several small incidents and events that showed me that He was right there with me. Just that I didn’t see Him.

Something had been festering in my heart for months and I just didn’t know how to deal with it. A thorn in my side which I hoped would just go away. It didn’t. But 3 days before the retreat, Jesus gave me the opportunity to ‘make good’ with the person I was upset with. I resisted and made all sorts of excuses not to come face to face with this person. But Jesus, in all his wisdom, kind of just shoved me along. And so things were restored. I could now go freely to this retreat with no baggage.

The theme of the retreat was ‘Get Out Of The Boat’. The scripture Father used for reflection is today’s gospel reading. On Day One, we were asked to take stock of our lives. Where were we in relation to: family, church, ministry, neighbourhood, health, recreation, work, vocation and relationships? And in these areas of our lives, we were to picture what type of boat it was – sampan, speed boat, luxury liner?

All this while, I was so afraid to get out of my comfort zone. I remained in the boat despite how bumpy the ride was. Didn’t matter what sort of boat it was. However, as I journalled and started to share with my friend, I came to the realisation that I was no longer in the boat.

“Come! Why did you doubt?”

Jesus had all along been slowly cajoling me, like a little child, to step out of the boat with a little lolly in his hand. I was so unteachable, He had to ‘trick’ me like how a parent would coax a child. ‘Come!’

Looking at my life, and all the events leading up to where I was then. I was indeed out of the boat and did not even realise it. It was a revelation of sorts for me. And Jesus also revealed that I was actually living out my vocation. Not in the way I had pictured it would be. But I was living it!

A few of us were laughing about our own states. Someone told me that she too was out of the boat, only she was desperately clinging to the sides of her boat trying to climb back in! Funny how we humans are.

Peter got out of the boat. His eyes were fixed on Jesus and he actually walked across the water! But the moment he doubted, he started to sink. Our spiritual walk is a leap of faith. Yup, we don’t know what’s ahead. But if we keep our eye on Jesus, we will not sink.

Back then, Jesus had another revelation for me. Actually, I was back in the boat. Yup. I am now back in the boat. And Jesus is the Seamaster.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)

Prayer: Jesus, despite how deaf and blind we can be, continue to lead us to live the life you had intended for us. Help us to have the courage and faith to step out into the unknown, knowing that you have your eyes on us.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Jesus, for our lives. For what you have done for us, so much more than we imagined or prayed for. You are the source of our strength. You comfort us, fill us and provide for us. For this we are every so grateful.

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