Readings: Acts 6:1-7, Ps. 33:1-2,4-5,18-19, John 6:16-21

“The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus, walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified.” (John 6:18-19)

For some days now, our readings have been centred on events marking the beginnings of the Church. What has been quite clear from these readings is that the church never had a smooth ride. Like a boat tossing from side to side on water, the church faced a series of ups and downs. Having surmounted the challenge of the Jewish persecution, the apostles soon faced an internal crisis relating to food. When the devil fights you from outside and cannot bring you down, he tries to fight from within. Nevertheless, as Jesus said to the apostles in today’s Gospel passage, when you face such attacks, “Do not be afraid.”(John 6:20). Even in chaos, God is never far from you. Let us now examine today’s lessons in detail:

1. Disunity is a Weapon in the Hands of the Enemy: The easiest way to conquer a people (and take away their power) is to highlight their differences, make them believe they are not equals, and favour one group over another. This was the strategy of the colonialists in Africa. By creating mistrust among people who lived peacefully for ages, the colonial masters conquered many. When we fight ourselves, we cannot face our common enemy – the “thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy.” (Cf. John 10:10). The Hellenists thought the Hebrews were the problem; they didn’t know that the entire church was under attack. Before fighting that brother or sister, remember that we only have one enemy, the devil, and the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. (Cf. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4)

2. Don’t Be Distracted By Your Problems: The problem of injustice in the daily distribution of food among the believers can be understood in the image of the disciples crossing the sea at night while facing a strong wind. The devil desires to make us doubt God when we face challenges. “If your God is powerful, He wouldn’t allow this problem to happen.” When we doubt God, it becomes difficult to pray. The devil lies: “Why waste time praying? Can prayer fix it? What did you gain from your previous prayers?” The apostles were not distracted. They knew the danger posed by the unfair distribution of food yet said: “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables… we will devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:2-4). Never let anything stop you from prayer.

3. Even in Chaos, God is With You: No matter how bad things turn out for you, never forget the words of Jesus: “I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:20). This was the lesson the apostles learnt in today’s Gospel passage. When they thought all hopes were lost, Jesus, who did not go with them in the boat, came walking on water. Jesus said: “It is I; do not be afraid”, meaning “Relax, I am on top of the situation. Do not panic.” When they saw Jesus, they were no longer afraid, and as soon as they took Jesus into the boat, they immediately arrived at their destination. Stop wasting time analysing your problems; fix your gaze on Jesus. Problems do not mean God has abandoned you; they are normal hurdles that make life sweet.

4. Trials are Blessings in Disguise: As the legendary Christian Musician, Don Moen, sang: “God will make a way where there seems to be no way.” In other words, God knows how to write straight on crooked lines. The selection of deacons came out of the crisis that ensued over food. What the devil thought would bring an end to the church became an opportunity to discover great talents that would eventually succeed the apostles. St. Augustine says: “God will never allow His children to suffer unless it is because He wants to bring something good out of it.” If God permits a crisis in your life, know that He is planning something big.

5. Learn to Delegate: Another lesson from our first reading is the need to delegate. Avoid the mistake of thinking that if you are not there, everything will crash. Remember that when you delegate, you have also agreed to train the person. Don’t just give them an assignment; make sure you teach them and encourage them until they become experts.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, you walked on water to teach me that nothing is beyond your power. Help me to trust even when things become difficult for me. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Saturday of the 2nd week of Eastertide. Bible Study: Acts 6:1-7, Ps. 33:1-2,4-5,18-19, John 6:16-21).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu