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WHY SURRENDER?

          To a person who was begging for God’s help in a time of anxiety and trial, God answered clearly, “I know that you need me, I am with you. Do not be afraid.” God didn’t tell her how He would help but asked her to trust Him. This is in line with today’s Gospel. Jesus said to Peter in the boat while the storm was raging in the sea, “Come”. He didn’t say how it could be made possible for him to walk over the raging sea. He just said something like “Just do it! Step out of the boat in faith, in radical trust and surrender”. Jesus knew that Peter’s courage would collapse when he would see the size of the waves that threatened him. Indeed, Peter sank and started shouting “Lord, save me”. Jesus immediately reached out to Peter’s hand and pulled him out! Not without a reproach, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Now Peter’s initial act of faith was great, asking the Lord to command him to walk out of the boat. But it was not perseverant under pressure. “When Peter noticed the strong winds, he became frightened and began to sink.” The Lord knows it is difficult for us to surrender but he asks us “to seek the kingdom of God first and everything will be given us besides” (Luke 12:31) “Every hair of your head is counted.” The Father knows all about us, about all our real needs.

          Now to step out of the boat in faith, to surrender to God’s call, we need a strong incentive. Peter had at least two incentives. For one, he knew that they were in great danger of perishing. The boat was no longer a haven of security. For two, he knew that safety and life were in Christ, and through him, Christ was the real haven, not the boat.

          What are your reasons to surrender? It could be that you don’t know how to get out of your impasse without him. It could be that you found the pearl of great price in him, the one who is worthy of selling all, giving all to him.

          St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross knew this when she was put in a cattle train on the way to Auschwitz to be killed. Previously, she had written “By doing what God demands of us with total surrender in our innermost being, we cause that divine life to become our own inner life.” (Living With Christ, August 2017, p68)

          What does that divine life in us do when it becomes our own inner life? An increase of faith, hope, and love. These three theological virtues are not acquired by our own efforts only, even though we need to put our perseverant efforts. They are ultimately infused by God. An increase of faith may look like this. The teachings of Christ, the realities of faith begin to look more and more real to us, and they progressively annul within us the lies of the culture marked by sin. When we sin habitually, the realities of faith seem so weak, so unreal. But the infusion of faith reestablishes in our perception and judgments the realities of faith as the only ones worthy of our trust and adhesion. We are less and less attracted by the mirages of sin, and false teaching so prevalent in the world. We are free to go to Jesus.

          An increase of hope means that God has unmasked all the false promises of happiness in a world without God. Now, we can allow the promises of the Lord to take hold of us, personally, really. We “know” that this life is only a preparation for eternal life and true joy. Heaven is real, because we know God is real and cannot lie.

          An increase of love means that we can love more and more like Christ, joyfully forget ourselves to put Christ and others first for the sake of God. The resulting joy gives us another increase of faith and hope. And it gives on and on, until we are conformed with Christ, from glory to glory.

 

God bless you,

Fr. Pierre