Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: April 17,Lectionary 272. Acts 6:1-7./ Psalm 33:L1-2,4-5.18-19.
“It is I! Do not be afraid.” Jesus tells his disciples and us that we are
not to be afraid. He is always with us through the thick and thin of life’s
journey. Today we hear it as he walks on the waters and calms the fear of
those gathered in the shaking, creaking, and sinking boat. Is it a symbol
of the Church? In the light of happenings that we learn about from the
media, it could very well be our Church of which we are members. We suffer
because of other members who may have strayed from listening to Jesus.
In the Scriptures we discover that not only Jesus but also
messengers/angels sent from God to a chosen individual are told not to be
afraid. Think of Gideon, Zachariah, Mary the Mother of Jesus and you will
see that they have heard this calming expression of God’s voice and
presence, “Do not be afraid.” Fear parlyzes us and develops into anxiety,
restlessness, and nervousness.
Today as Jesus walks through the storm to the wind-tossed boat, we hear his
clarion voice telling the apostles, “Do not be afraid. It is I.” The
expression “it is I” reminds us of the ineffable name that was first given
to Moses on Mount Sinai–Yahweh. We know it is called the
tetragrammaton–the revered four Hebrew consonants that come from the verb
“to be”. In context it often can mean, “I am with you here and now.” Or
“I go before you.” “I cause things to go well and right.” So the
Scriptures are quite an antidote for our anxieties when we sense them
invading our mind, spirit, and body. God is always present and perhaps
moreso when we are in our deepest trials and conflicts.
In John there are many times that we have different symbolic words attached
to Jesus’ “I am” statements. In our present reading from chapter six on the
Eucharist it is “I am the Bread of Life.” “I am the Manna come down from
heaven.” We also will soon hear “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” “I
am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
Those who do not accept Jesus or who during the time of Judas’ betrayal
were to seize Jesus are affected by who Jesus is. As they come to
apprehend him, he asks them to let his disciples go free. As he says “It
is I” who am Jesus of Nazareth whom you want. John tells us, “When Jesus
said this, “I am He”, they moved back and fell to the ground.” (John 18:6).
We thus remember that during this Easter time we frequently have flashbacks
in the Scriptures that make us think about the sufferings, death, and
resurrection of Jesus. The joys of Easter necessarily are always seen
within the context of the Paschal Mysteries. The fifty days of “unbounded
joy” are rapidly moving on. We have nothing to fear. Jesus is our ever
present friend and companion. Amen. Alleluia.