The Power of a Quiet Voice

Tired. The “up-with-sick-kids-for-three-nights-running” or the “36-hour-flight-through-nine-time-zones” kinda tired. Where even an airplane tray table or a boat cushion looks like a comfy pillow. That’s how tired Jesus was. And the dis­ciples take him along, “just as he was.”

The Gospel brings to mind a Fr. Greg Boyle story. The founder of Homeboy Industries, Fr. Boyle was saying Mass in prison. The inmates did the readings; one proclaimed, “God is exhausted.” The original said, “God is exalted.” But what a felix culpa, “happy fault”! We can connect with a God as exhausted as we are.

It gets better. Jesus is so relaxed, undefended, at one with the water, that he doesn’t notice his toes getting wet. He doesn’t blame nature as the enemy and cause of plague and disaster, or try to dominate it with machinery, behavior that’s created our current ecological crisis. Instead, he understands the mystery of a wave being a wave, and shows utter ease, stilling it. It’s not a clever party trick; knowing that nothing is outside the divine, Jesus engages calmly with what Zorba the Greek called “the full catastrophe.”

Jesus views the sea as sanctuary. Seeing water metaphori­cally, Nathan calls forth the divine wellspring in David, “just as he was.” The prophet trusts that a poignant story will tickle the king’s best self—rage at injustice, even if he committed it. We too—sleepy, missing the mark, “just as we are”—par­ticipate in the larger story. Can we believe that every particle of nature and ourselves is saturated in God? Subversive, that sacred knowledge.

This meditation on the readings of January 29 appears in the January 2022 issue of Give Us This Day, (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2022). Used with permission.

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