Sunday, August 2, 2015

Met Georges Khodr: Inside and Outside the Boat

Arabic original here.

Inside and Outside the Boat

Today's Gospel reading gives us an image of our constant relationship to the Savior. The storm in Lake Tiberias is like the storm in every place, the storm of life. In our life, the Lord walks on water. That is, He transcends our difficulties, dispels from us the nightmare of evil and causes us to be saved in the boat of the Holy Church, which crosses this life alive in our Lord who dwells within her.

We may wonder why Jesus caused his disciples to head across the lake. Is it perhaps because He wanted to test their faith the next day or that night, during the last watch? Is it perhaps because He wanted to receive them into the secret of His divinity or because He needed this prayer that He made during the night with the Father in order to receive into His humanity all the power from His father? Or is it perhaps because He longed for this conversation with God?

After praying intensely on the hills of Capernaum, He walked on the surface of the water until He reached the disciples' boat. He appeared to them in the fog, when the night had not yet ended. It was as though there was a ghost and they were afraid. If a person is surrounded by the fog of his sins or if the world is blackened in his eyes, he can neither see God as being full of light nor can he see simple things. God must take the initiative and scatter the clouds in the soul and remove all the darkness and mist from our eyes. The Lord Himself is the one who takes the initiative because He is the one who loves.

When Jesus encouraged the disciples saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid,” Peter became excited to go out to the Teacher because he could not stand to wait. He wanted to cleave to the Lord directly and so he said, "Lord, command me to come to you." Peter was an obedient disciple and he did not want to charge out on his own. He wanted to be invited. So the Lord permitted him this.

As long as Peter's gaze was set on the gaze of the Teacher, he walked lightly on the water because he was living through the One who was coming to him. He was strengthened along his way. But when he saw the wind, he started to slip. He had to not see the wind, to transcend every earthly sense that caused him to be bound to the earth, a prisoner of this world. Peter returned to being a prisoner of his troubles. He returned to his doubts and so the world once more appeared overwhelming and powerful. It was only for a few moments that he could see Christ conquering nature, after which he started to sink.

We are all in this state: our lusts and interests dominate us and Christ appears to us like a phantasm-- that is, like He is nothing-- while we claim that we are Christians and have this written on paper. But everything we say and do and the basis for our behavior demonstrates that Christ has not become real in our hearts, that He is still a phantasm. 

However, if we are able to walk on water in Jesus' gentle breeze-- that is, if we overcome the storm and separate ourselves from people's concerns and we cease being captive to anyone, if we submit to the Lord, then He extends His hand to us and keeps us before His face. He brings us into the boat, into the Church of salvation, where we all say to Him, "You are the Son of God." That is, "You are the only king we desire as Lord over hearts that are purified and wills that are strengthened."

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