Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Jesus, Save Us!

Here is Ludolf Backhuysen's painting of Jesus Calming the Stormy Sea as told in the Gospels of Matthew (4:35-41), Mark (8:23-27) and Luke (8:22-25). In each of the three, the disciples call out to the sleeping Jesus, but it is only in Matthew's Gospel that they implore Jesus saying: "Save us."

Words like save and salvation have become a kind of specialized vocabulary (Church-talk) that forms a disconnect with people today, especially young people. Ask folks what save and salvation mean and at best we might hear a word or two about Jesus dying on the cross to save us from our sins so we can go to heaven. Without denying that, I'd suggest save  and salvation have to do with today and right now, long before having anything to do with going to heaven. Save and salvation are interior realities and very personal to each of us.

Save means "Get me out of here." In 1975 I was rushing back to the seminary in my bright yellow Volkswagon Beetle to make the midnight curfew, when I made a wrong turn and wound up in a neighborhood that was dark, de-populated, decrepit and utterly terrifying. I drove frantically up and down streets hoping to find my way back to a familiar road, the sense of danger and doom increasing, when I felt this deep inside prayer-urge that cried out: "Get me out of here."  That's asking for salvation in a most basic way.

But then we allow that desperate prayer to reflect inner realities:

Jesus, get me out of this need for 
and acceptance.

Jesus, get me out of this
my obsession with work,
my inability to be alone,
my disinterest in others.

Jesus get me out of this idolatry of

And for younger people: 
get me out of this worship of
media fun,
entertainment and peer acceptance

Jesus, get me out of the chattering
monkey-mind of judgments,
and assessing everyone and everything.

Jesus, get me out of the resentments
I harbor and the
victim-hood I nurture,
my inner whining,
and negative complaining.

Jesus, get me out of this dark cloud mode,
my inner tempest,
all my worrisome regrets,
and the masks I wear.

Jesus, get me out of this inner neighborhood
of fears, 
fantasy and bad-humor...

and put me on the right road,
the sure path, 
of joy,
restored dignity,
light and

Now look again at the painting. The little boat (of my life) is ready to go under - it is being swamped by violent waves (can you name it for yourself?), the sail is maxed-out and already there is an opening in the ominous sky (look to the left) and a lovely, hopeful light is breaking through. Salvation is already at hand. Everything will be alright! 


  1. I think having Jesus remove the negativity would be a key element in getting past many other problems. Good prayer Father. Thank you.

  2. Negativity (it seems to me) is the opposite of gratitude. And gratitude is the foundation of a genuine spiritual life. Then you're free! Thanks for writing.

  3. Trust in Jesus. Amen.

  4. Salvation may be at hand, but the men are holding on to the sail with its broken rigging for dear life. That we can reach such despair and still be saved is but for the grace of God. But what about the ship to the right of the painting? Still in darkness and broken into pieces sinking rapidly. Are those the people that didn't believe, or didn't ask for salvation?

    1. Well, one of the gospels speaks of "ships" plural setting out, but nothing of what happened to the others. Here the artist has painted in his own sense of things. Rather than interpreting the sinking ships as "the people who didn't..." I'd rather see it as perhaps a warning to me about myself if I don't...(fill in the blanks). .Sometimes dreams can be warnings - a kind of "heads up."

  5. Although this doesn't take away from your post in any way Father, you might want to be aware that you have the incorrect artist as the painter.

  6. Not at all. That matters. Correction made. Thanks for your attentions!