Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

"Let us go to the other side..."

Here we see Tigran Ghulyan's  vivid painting of  Jesus Calming the Storm. Indeed, the Sea of Galilee truly experiences roiling storms of this kind. Largely surrounded by mountains which funnel great winds down to the water, violent storms produce waves that could very well take under a little boat and crew. 

But before the storm came upon them, Jesus has said to the disciples, "Let us set out for the other side of the lake." Mark4:35. That's an important line. Did it happen historically? Why would I want to doubt these things? But while I believe in the historicity of the Gospels, I also believe that there is much more to them than just bare facts. It is a problem for the Church, when we fail to come to the more, the underneath, the beyond.

Christ (the new human person) in the little boat is a type or image of each of us and all of us. And as such, he leads us to the other side. How simple: It's his idea! Jesus takes us, leads us, goes with us, to the other side. Can you name it? Perhaps:

To the other side of knowledge
To the other side of consciousness
To the other side of God's real ideas (not our puny concepts)
To the other side of compassion and kindness
To the other side of sobriety
To the other side of my life lived in a new integrity
To the other side of inner freedom
To the other side of real listening and dialogue
To the other side of blind obedience
To the other side of just believing
To the other side of what human means

Some people are not interested in going to the "the other side" with Christ. They'd rather hug the shore, though the shore is a shallow place. "I'm not interested in that justice stuff" the Catholic church-lady said dismissively. But then religion becomes (to use the words of Pope Francis) a comfortable nest, a laboratory, a bubble

But how can I set out for the other side? Thich Nhat Hahn, the Buddhist monk referenced here before, suggests that learning to practice mindfulness is key. The past and the future are not realities, only this precise moment is real. And now this moment. And now this one. 

Time slips through our fingers, like the sand in the hourglass. "Where did the time go," we ask. And we are mindless about much (most?) of it, being dutiful, wasteful, distracted, anxious, frantically goal-oriented, selfish, lazy, over extended, sugar-ed or caffeinated up, high, resentful, fake.

I'm thinking of how Americans approach food and table: the young dad who came into the diner with his four year old son. Who plopped the boy down in the booth and at once opened up his laptop, creating a wall between himself and the little boy who sat shredding paper napkins, the father ordering without once referring to the child and who didn't even look up when the food was delivered. Poor boy, poor dad - missing the moment with his son.

In-this-moment-mindfulness. Consciousness. Awareness. Looking. Observing. Listening. Contemplating. Inquiring. We've already set out for the other side. 


  1. I so much like when you point out the greater meaning in things Father.

  2. Thank you. And it pleases me when people care. Blessed Sunday!

  3. We can only survive the storms of life with Jesus' help. I pray to remember the he is always in the boat with me, even as the wind tears at the sails and the boat is battered about, even almost sinking at times. Blessings to you Fr. Stephen for brining your prayerful reflections to us each week.

  4. And to you and your family on this Sunday!

  5. The apostles’ lack of faith reminds us that even those who lived and walked with Jesus, saw His miracles, and heard His message still found it difficult to be 100 percent faith-filled all the time. In that way, the disciples were a lot like us. However, their lack of faith was rebuked—and, by extension, so is ours. If Jesus was able to rescue the apostles from the storm, He is also able to rescue us from the storms of everyday life. But I like your addition of His leading us across to the other side. That we have to take part in our rescue. That is a much better way of looking at it for me.

  6. I love these paintings, you have chosen. What gifts these artists have been given. They show how scary it can be traveling with Jesus but filled with adventure and rescue. Jesus is so exciting to be with.

  7. I see this go on more and more in restaurants. Whole families on their cell phones and iPads ignoring one another to send texts and socialize with other digitally connected people rather than the ones right in front of them. Loss of opportunity for family connections. I have even seen couples on dates with their phones at their fingertips. What is becoming of society?

  8. Or the girls who live across the street from one another and who talk together for hours on their phones. When asked by the mother, "Why don't you just go across the street and visit with each other?" the girl replied, "That wouldn't be any fun." It seems that we have come up to a kind of evolution margin or boundary and simultaneously have begun to devolve humanly. I would say that Christianity's main focus in the future might be to remind the world of what it means to be human. That is after all what God became in Jesus Christ - human. We have a lot of work to do on ourselves in that regard.