Then he made his disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And when he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray. When it was evening, the boat was far out on the sea and he was alone on shore. Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out. They had all seen him and were terrified. But at once he spoke with them, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” He got into the boat with them and the wind died down. They were [completely] astounded. They had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened. Mark 6:45-52
This is the version in Mark’s Gospel of Jesus walking on water. There’s an odd line in it. He meant to pass by them. The passage concludes with Jesus telling them “it is I” and then it explains they had not understood the incident of the loaves and their hearts were hardened.
These men had God in their midst. Jesus, the healer, the miracle worker, the storm calmer. But they did not fully recognize him. They continually looked for worldly solutions for everything they came across. In the prior passage we see the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. In the passage the disciples want to send the people away to eat, but Jesus tells them to feed the people themselves, and then they start talking about wages. They still don’t know who he is. And so HE MEANT TO PASS BY THEM. Love was standing right in front of them, but fear and distraction took their eyes off of Him. He exclaims, “it is I,” as if to say, I AM love and I AM right here. Don’t you know I will provide?
Jesus is telling us don’t be distracted or fearful because of worldly things. This is where we must surrender and trust so that Love does not pass us by. I am going to tell a story now that may seem off track, but I promise I will bring it back around.
I want to open up a bit, more so than I probably have before about a personal struggle I went through. Though I have told it before, I am going to add details that I didn’t before. I am telling this story because I actually believe it wholeheartedly pertains to what is happening to us as a society, and what will happen in the future to each of us with even greater intensity.
In 2002 I had a baby. A beautiful baby boy. It should have been the most joyous occasion of my life, but it wasn’t. Not through any fault of his, so if he ever reads this I do not want him to ever feel he did anything wrong. He is a gift from God. But I had severe post -partum depression and anxiety. Back then I thought it was purely a physical response to a drop in estrogen. Today I recognize it as a spiritual attack. An attack on the very essence of my motherhood.
I don’t think I can fully describe the types of thoughts that were flung at me during that time period, except to say they were awful, and demonic. I was afraid I would go crazy and harm my child. I couldn’t be in high places with the baby or anywhere near knives. If I were near these things the thoughts assaulted my mind and I couldn’t stop them. I couldn’t control them. They were constant. I knew they were wrong, and disordered, and scary. I reached out to my family and my doctor for help and all of them helped me, but the thoughts were constant. I didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. I decided that the world would be better off without me.
I was sitting in the bath tub and I was being barraged with the awful thoughts and I honestly knew the thoughts weren’t mine because they were so vile, but I didn’t realize where they were coming from and I couldn’t stop them, so I thought, I will just put my head under this water and never come up, and that will stop the thoughts. In that moment I got a very clear picture of my sister’s face. And I had the thought that she would be sad. So I paused. I looked to my left and a Rosary was sitting on the bath tub ledge. I hadn’t prayed the Rosary in a long time and I am not even really sure how it got there. But God had left me a weapon. A weapon to fight the demonic attack. And he had showed me a face, a holy face that reflected His love, my sister's face. Where one voice assaulted my mind and convinced me to despair, another breathed life and love into me, and so began my long spiritual journey.
It was from that point on I began to climb out of the pit. Within a year I was back to functioning. My faith life was a roller coaster, and it would be another 7 years before the murder of Veronica that really changed how I interacted with God and how to recognize what was happening spiritually.
In looking back, I can say that was the starting point of my path to a spiritual world view. And it was along this path that I discovered mercy and forgiveness can halt the assault on our minds. Confession is healing. Forgiving others is totally freeing. The Eucharist is God in us. We are called to love. And love cannot be separated from truth. I hadn’t believed that I was the loved child of a King. But Jesus showed me I was. And so is each one of you.
So in these times now when I feel confused or filled with rage, I know the thoughts are caused by our enemy. I always start with the premise, when I am confused, angry, rage filled, etc, of– what exactly am I called to do? I start here because this is a way to drown out the noise and confusion. So, I look at what is in my circle of authority, what I am called to do, what I can control. I am called to love and pray for people. So my own interior intention for myself and for anyone else is that they flourish and are blessed, the way that God blesses me. I do not know the intention in other people’s hearts. And I should not assume I do know. I should never will the demise of anyone else like we see happening so much, especially in politics. I don’t get to judge the interior heart of another person. Christ does. You see, at the end of the day when all of this turmoil is swirling around us, and confusion is bred everywhere, I actually close my eyes, I sometimes put ear plugs in too, I drown out the world purposefully, to hear the still small voice. This is the voice that calls me to love. It is the voice that says, even in the blindness, I will be the light that guides. I must love the person right in front of me. When I see poison arrows from all sides, I want no part of it. I am not talking about discussing facts and truth, I am talking about ad hominem attacks and wishing willful destruction on someone else. God tells me He has a larger plan, and he often says, “look up” to me when I seem to be looking down. By that I mean God wants me to see the goodness in people and in his creation. He wants me to see how the devil has trained people to think and to put my hatred there on the devil and not on the people. He also points out evil to me and tells me when to stand in front of it. But I am careful to listen and ask Him first because if you fight that which is outside your circle of authority, you will find yourself beaten down. I think when this storm is over, we will all have had the ground come out from under us. We will realize how we all had a false perception of at least some things, and God will reveal the truth. I think about how we are standing on SAND. Think about it, the virtual worlds we have created and that are driving our economic systems and commerce, are fake. Real relationship is missing. My prayer is that all of us turn towards God when he allows the SAND to get blown away, and we aren’t so invested in our own in our perception that we walk away from God like Judas did.
The assault that is happening to us is an all out assault of the demonic on our minds. Satan is using our need for worldly security and our emotions in a way that has led us into this time where good is called evil and evil is called good. This is actually the storm we are in. While it is a global storm for sure, it is also an interior storm of thoughts and ideologies that are flung at our minds. And we are sitting in a boat in this storm, and the Kingdom of God is at hand teaching us how to love, but He just may pass us by if we don’t recognize Him. The Kingdom of God is a call to love. TAKE CAPTIVE EVERY THOUGHT. Be merciful because mercy is a conduit to love. This is Christ in us. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit extending love and mercy to our fellow man. It is an interior battle. Put on the Armor of God and be battle ready. Because love is the only way to navigate this storm and Jesus and his Mother show us how to stop the storm and crush the serpent.
….I want you to be wise as to what is good, and simple as to what is evil; then the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. Romans 16:19-20