Sunday, September 20, 2015

Asleep in our boat

Sometimes I wonder, when Jesus fell asleep with His head on a cushion in the disciples' fishing boat, what was He doing? He must have gone out countless times with them on that fickle lake, in clear weather and in foul, by night and by day. Did He often just fall asleep? Was He tired, or just bored with what was going on? Of Him, if of no one else, this saying is at least true, ‘I sleep, but my heart is awake,’ yet He is not the Bride (who speaks these words in the Song of Songs), but the Beloved whom the psalmist extols, ‘of all men You are the most handsome, Your lips are moist with grace, for God has blessed You forever’ (Psalm 45:2 Jerusalem Bible).

When the Word and Son of God became man, was that too a kind of ‘sleep in the boat’?

I mean, while reclining and growing in the womb of the Theotokos, He was asleep, yet the worlds continued to run their courses, and nature renewed itself as it always does, even though the Lord who creates, sustains and—yes!destroys all things was hidden in a cleft, not of rock, but of human flesh.

Of course, how could someone not record that day when sleeping, they had to rouse Him? They needed His help. The wind and the waves were getting the best of them. They were in danger of capsizing. If He didn't wake up and do something, He would have to swim for His life as well. Or would He? Does He only pretend to be asleep, so we have to go to the trouble to rouse Him?

Perfect trust met perfect care on that day. He who slept for our sake in the Woman's virgin womb, and slept for our sake in the rich man's unused tomb, slept also for the sake of His disciples in that boat. Strong as that vessel was, they knew it could not withstand the tempest raging around them. They woke Him. ‘Master, don't you care? We're going down!’ We know how that story, and all the others written about that Man, ends.

Yet here we are in our boat, our fishing boat, the Holy Church, and the sea is getting very rough as we can see. The disciples have forgotten all about fishing. Some are attending to the management of the rudder and sail, some are counting the moneys garnished from the last catch, a few are mending nets, and all are worrying, mostly without admitting it, about the raging tempest around them. Do we know who it is that is asleep in our boat?

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