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Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Calming of the Storm at Sea

Witness: Anya, a Jewish peasant woman of the time of Jesus.

Story N.11 (see previous posts)

In a stormy whether the sea howls, screams and sheds tears. It turns dark, inscrutable and restless. Its waves implacably whip the rocks. They can strangle a man in their whirls of salty water and tear a boat apart with white claws of foam.
Anya is standing on the shore, anxiously scanning the treacherous sea in search of Simon’s fisher boat. Jesus and his disciples are out there, on their way back to Capernaum. She has preceded them to attend Heli’s wedding. Thanks to God Neri was at home, alive and well. Anya recalls the moment when she saw him. He was chopping wood in the courtyard, raising his ax with both hands and driving it down in a steady motion. Her first impulse was to call his name and run to him, but she refrained from doing it. Instead, she slackened her pace to give herself some time to unravel her feelings.
She was relieved and overjoyed, but her emotions were earthly emotions. It is different when she is with Jesus… With him she isn’t simply happy, but rather ecstatic, with a depth that she has never experienced before. Seeing her husband after such a long separation brought tears to her eyes, but they were tears of a tender, familiar joy. They fell into each other’s arms, and then Neri said to her:
“You have arrived just in time to start cooking for Heli’s wedding, wife! I just finished chopping wood to light the fire. We are still a team, aren’t we?”
“Of course we are!” she answered. “We both want the best for our son. It will be the greatest ceremony ever. How is he?
“His happiness will be complete when he’ll find out that you’re here.”
“I missed you both, Neri,” she said. “I love you.”



Waiting for Simon’s boat after Heli’s wedding Anya recalls Jesus’ teachings to her mind, trying to look at her marriage from the right perspective.
“Don’t think”, he had said,” that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father and a daughter against her mother; and one’s enemies will be those in his household.”

Jesus knew that some would believe in him and others would reject him, just like it’s happening with Anya and Neri. But Anya isn’t ready to give up on her husband. She’s determined to have him listening to Jesus preaching at least once. If only he could do it with an open heart he would fall in love with him and would be saved. Marriage is supposed to last forever. Jesus said that husband and wife are one flesh, and that what God has joined together no human being can separate. And so she’ll do whatever is in her power to make Neri leave the rebels.
The wind has suddenly subsided and the sea is calm. Simon’s fisher boat is in sight. In its wake small waves rise and then break, foam sliding down their hollow. When it finally reaches the bank Anya is there to welcome Jesus and his disciples. Andrew is the first one to disembark. Rushing toward him, she exclaims:
“Thank God you are safe! I was so worried! The weather was awful!”
“You won’t believe what just happened out there, Anya! The boat was being swamped by waves. We were sure that we were going to perish, but Jesus was sleeping, oblivious of the storm. When we woke him up he scolded us for having little faith in him, then he rebuked the winds and the sea. And all of a sudden there was great calm and the storm was over!”
Anya watches Jesus jumping off the boat, his solemn face relaxed in that beautiful smile that she knows so well by now.
“I believe you, Andrew,” she says. “I believe all powers were given to him and nothing can resist his will, not even the sea. For he’s the Son of the living God.”