THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Her Doctrine and Morals

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

3 February 2019

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Dear Friends,

The storm on the sea in today's Gospel symbolically represents to us the storms of this life (this world). As they disturb those on the boat in the Gospel, so they disturb those in the Church. The power and majesty of nature fills us with wonder and amazement and often with fear. Fallen men tend to resist the power of nature and strive to protect themselves from all disturbances to their desired security. We build structures resistant to storms and earthquakes. In this frame of mind, the winds and the waves appear as enemies to be overcome or resisted. When we no longer perceive a threat to our mortal lives we see beauty and wonder in the powers of nature. The majestic mountains and canyons, waters and winds all begin to appear beautiful and good.

It is the same wind that carries the boat safely to shore that also may sink it deep in the ocean. The same rain that moistens the earth and brings forth vegetation of all kinds is the same rain that causes mudslides and damage to men and properties. To be able to control this and conform it all to our wills is an enticing desire. To harness the river to mill our grain or to generate electricity gives us a sense of power and authority. The same with harnessing the energy of the sun or the wind. Wherever we can take control or use these forces for our own purposes, fear disappears and pride and vanity soon enter in. The devils tempt us either way — rain or shine.

When we see Jesus in the Gospel simply utter the command to be still, we are amazed. What a wonderful power to have. Yet, this is a power that is beyond what we know our human natures are capable of. For those who love Jesus, it fills us with wonder and amazement. For those who do not love, it fills us with fear and trepidation. Without love, the fear of the wind and the sea are soon turned to fear of Jesus who has the power and authority to command them.

Through love, we advance in faith and hope. We understand that God is the Creator and Master of all things. Even though we may not understand, love and faith impress upon us that nothing happens unless God wills it or permits it. Love leads us to hope that through the mercy of God all things will lead to our eternal happiness. The storms of this world soon lose their ability to terrify souls imbued with these virtues. They become occasions to renew or increase our faith and trust. There is a sense of beauty and power that inspires us with thoughts of God, in spite of whatever harm may or may not happen to our mortal lives.

As we rise from the natural world to the supernatural world we find the same thing in the realm of our souls. Instead of material storms, there are spiritual ones. In place of the material beauty, we find spiritual beauty. The extremes are even greater in the spiritual realm than they are in the material one. The destruction of our bodies pales in comparison with the destruction of our souls. The fleeting pleasures of the body fade into nothingness as we approach the true joys of our souls.

All these things that Jesus said and did have been recorded for us to lead us from the material or natural world to that of the spiritual world. There is much that we can learn about our souls from our bodies — we can learn from the material about the spiritual. We simply need to broaden our perspective to see the symbolical meaning that Jesus is revealing to us. He manifests this to us every time He said: "The Kingdom of Heaven is like …." We need spiritual eyes to see these spiritual things. We are to take in the material things and learn from them the truths of the spiritual world.

The death of Jesus on Calvary fills physical/material men with fear. The spiritual men experience an even greater fear of their own sins that have done this to the Son of God, but it is not a crippling fear. It is a constructive fear that overcomes sin and builds up virtue. The sufferings and death of Jesus fills the spiritual man with ever greater faith, hope, and charity.

The spiritual storms that are assaulting the Church turn the many physical/material men away from the true faith. Many are almost consumed with anxiety and fear as they think about the destruction of this world and then the obvious wearing away of the true Faith. Jesus reminds us today that no matter what happens, He is still in charge. A Word from Him and everything can change. May we always strive to increase our belief and acceptance of this truth, and then peace and calmness will enter our souls as well.

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