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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories ~ Trust and a Foundation of God’s Reign in Every Age, Among All Peoples

Spring and summer bring out a common scene.  The streets and parks are full of Moms and Dads teaching their youngest the wonders of riding a bike.  The pattern is often a common one.  The child is excited with the new bike and readily gets on the cycle.  With Mom or Dad holding onto the seat, the child moves along the path.  After several time up and down, Mom or Dad briefly let’s go of the seat then catches it again.  This routine will last for a couple of days.  By this time the little one has begun to push the pedals.  Then, comes the launch.


Mom senses the child has found her balance.  She let’s go of the bike and the child is cycling,… but only barely.  After 4-5 meters, little Penelope realizes that Mom is no longer holding onto her bike.  She loses her balance and falls over. The problem is that the little one also loses her confidence.  She trusts her Mom, but not herself.  It is a few more days and perhaps several falls, before her confidence allows her to trust she can ride the bike without her Mom.  Somehow her Mom has passed on the ability of her daughter to ride her bike while her mother is not physically present.  But, in some way, Mom remains present.  She has passed on to her daughter the balance and ability to ride the bike, that she herself learned years earlier.  Parents do this in many areas of life.


This is what Jesus does with his disciples.  He passes on the message he has received.  And, he passes on the mission that he has been given by the Father.  This does not happen without the development of trust.  As the disciples begin their journey of faith with Jesus they look upon him as a wise teacher by whom they are be instructed.  But there is more to come.  More will be asked of them.


Very gradually, disciples pick up a message that they hear or learn from Jesus.  But, there comes a day, and it only comes gradually, step by step they discover that Jesus is calling them further.  He shares with them his mission – building the Reign of God in our world.  For this they need confidence, as Penelope did.  She realized that Mom was not holding onto her physically, but Mom was certainly there in what she had taught Penelope in those early lessons.


Mark in his Gospel account points to a similar experience for the disciples.  Through actions of healing and a host of stories or parables, Jesus teaches them his message of the Reign of God.  Then, he takes them deeper, demanding that they trust and have confidence in him.  Early in his Gospel, Mark presents this is by having them take a boat across the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:35-41).

               

As they cross the lake, a great windstorm comes upon them and the boat is in danger of being swamped by the heavy seas.  Jesus is asleep and the disciples are overwhelmed by fear.  They wake him up: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  As he awakens, the seas are calmed and peace comes over the scene.  Jesus questions their faith and the trust they place in him.

               

The Gospels will present many occasions when the disciples are challenged to greater trust in the Jesus they are following.  Ultimately, they will face the tragedy of the crucifixion.  But once again, as on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples discover that Jesus brings them peace.


In the resurrection and with the gift of the Spirit, peace comes into our world.  Filled with the Spirit, the disciples overcome the dispirited fear that they face and become sharers of the Good New and builders of the God’s Reign in the midst of the chaos of our world – to the ends of the earth.


Filled with confidence and trust, all disciples of Jesus move from simple learners to apostles, announcing the Good New of God’s love to all humanity in every age.  This is the call of the whole community of Christians for our world.

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