Dear brothers and sisters in Jesus,
The very first sentence of today’s Gospel reading (of 19th Ordinary Sunday) surprised me a bit. The verse goes like this: “Immediately…, Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side.” In other words, it would mean that Jesus forced or constrained or compelled his disciples to get into the boat…
I just asked myself why Jesus had to force or constrain or compel them to…? Was he not in any way disrespecting their freedom?
Was not this attitude of him, somehow, going against their personal choice? etc. Well, answers to these questions can be vary and many.
However, when a person imposes his/her will on another one, we would call that as “compulsion”. Life teaches us that there is a compulsion in us which is the fruit of evil & sin. But then there is also a compulsion that is the fruit of great love, truth, wisdom that is in the heart. The Christian, being called to always remain in good and to overcome evil with good, surrenders himself to every compulsion, in order to remain in the greatest good.
At this juncture we need to remember the New Law that Jesus taught to his followers. The Old Law encouraged people to practise “Eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth”. But Jesus asked them not to oppose the wicked. On the contrary he said: if one slaps you on the right cheek, turn also the other cheek. If anyone wants to take away your tunic, leave also the cloak.
Jesus, who is now moved and led by the Holy Spirit, compels his disciples to move forward. Why does he force the disciples to board the boat and to go ahead to the other side?
Because Jesus must add to the many truths about his person another truth which will reveal to the disciples his Superiority to every other godly person who came before him. Jesus is God and he acts as God. God walks on the clouds of heaven. He walks on the water. The Gospel passage clearly shows how Peter will have to experience the infinite distance that separates him from Christ who is the Lord. Even though he received the command from Jesus to walk on the water too, Peter’s faith is still so small, so weak that it does not support it. As soon as he puts his feet on the water, he is seized with fear and is about to sink. Peter cries out to the Lord and the Lord saves him. Nobody is like Jesus. There was no one before him and there will be no one after him either. Only he is God in his nature and is divine person. Only he, as true man, is everything and always from the Father. Peter and the others still have to go a long way to be with Christ in the Holy Spirit. The perfection of Christ is unattainable. It is beyond all and beyond everything. Jesus wanted to teach his disciples this absolute truth about himself and for this reason he compelled them to get into the boat.
Besides, Jesus, perhaps, wants his disciples to get to know what true Wisdom is. Such wisdom, which comes from above, is first of all pure, then peaceful, meek, yielding, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. It is not necessarily found in those with the most education, money, or friends. Rather, wise people can be spotted living wisely in humility, participating in good works, enjoying peace, singleness of purpose, and gentle lifestyles. This kind of wisdom is refined and focused on exactly one thing: whatever God has called us to be and do.
Well, Peter and his companions, as followers of Jesus, ought to know these and no wonder why Jesus constrains them to go on to the side of the shore so that they could learn.
Dear brethren in Jesus,
Whoever wants to educate oneself OR wants to educate others to true Faith, true Charity, true Hope, and true Wisdom should not hesitate to also make use of the method of compulsion for greater good. Seen from this perspective obliging, compelling, constraining and persuading are always ways to follow. Without these paths, probably it will never be possible to progress in the truth of God, of Christ, of the Holy Spirit, of the Church. Those who want to always act and only by their own willingness, perhaps, will never progress in things of God and may miss out on the realities of Heaven.
May Mary, Mother of God and Help of Christians, Angels and Saints, compel our will to perfect obedience so that we may know who we are, learn who God is, why the Church exists and what is our part in the building up of God’s Kingdom now and here on earth.
Have a wonderful summer weekend !