This past Monday afternoon Matushka made plans to gather up the grandchildren and head to the county fair. There was a gentle breeze blowing and it was dollar night for all the amusement rides or so they are called, and we figured after the boys were shaken and jerked this way and that, we would only be in for a limited number of rides. Much to our surprise the grandsons enjoyed having their brains jostled and their stomachs twisted and we finally had to make a decision after two hours to close the dollar-bank.
Maybe it is my age or knowledge I have gained over the years that seems not to excite me when it comes to shaking my organs out of sorts, up and down and all around! In my latter years if I was on a ride, I would long for the amusement ride to be nearing its end, slowing down and the brief time of excitement to be over. I don’t enjoy being at the mercy of a crazy machine or even natures violent winds and waters. These days, I tend to prefer a much calmer flow in life, although they did get Matushka on a ride or two at least until she got a little dizzy!
In the Gospel reading today from St. Matthew I can imagine the disciples being tossed around in the ship in the midst of the mighty and contrary winds. They had no control! And after the forth watch, between 3 and 6 in the early morning, came the Creator to stabilize the ship and the amused disciples! [Mt. 14:25]
In the storms in life we all go through we often ask why and for how long. We feel a quite bit out of control and at the mercy of the contrary winds. Blessed Theophylact has an answer about this waiting. He says that we should “not ask for a swift resolution to our misfortunes but to endure them bravely.” (The Explanation by Blessed Theophylact of the Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew, Chrysostom Press, 2000) Okay, well that is easier said than done! In Matthew we read: But when he saw the strong wind, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me.” And straightway Jesus stretched forth His hand and laid hold of him, and said to him, “O thou of little faith! Why didst thou doubt?” [Mt. 14:30-31]
Saint Kyril of Alexandria writes: “The Church is frequently assailed by violent storms, and countless trials agitate her, and the cruelty of unclean spirits rages against her, and fill her with the fear of death. But Christ is among them, and while in His wisdom He permits that they suffer persecution, He seems to sleep. But when the storm is at its fiercest, and those in the ark can endure no more, then ought we to cry out, ‘Rise up, why sleepest Thou, O Lord [Ps. 43(44):23]?’ Without delay He will awaken and take away all thy fear.” [Commentary on Matthew, in Toal, I:326, 327.] Just as in the Gospel reading this morning, there it is! When Christ came into the ship, the wind ceased. [Mt. 14:31-32]
Don’t willingly get on those dollar rides of life for amusement whirled about in the abyss of sin, board the mighty ship with Christ and trust your existence to the tamer of the storms. Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)