Psalm 88 or 91, 92
1 Corinthians 9:16-27
Jesus’ words to the disciples in the reading from Mark shine hopefully to us today: “Take courage! It is I! Don’t be afraid.” For don’t we all at one time or another find ourselves on a windy and stormy lake, straining at the oars, unable to make out the shapes and forms surrounding us, unsure whether that figure moving toward us is a ghost or is God Himself? In these dark moments, today’s story reminds us that Jesus is with us, telling us to take courage.
And what is courage? Courage is acting out of hope in the face of fear. Courage is a cancer patient going to chemotherapy despite the fact that it will make him feel nauseated and weak, and the outcome of the treatment is yet unknown. Courage is waking up and facing a painfully open world, day after day, following the death of a loved one. Courage is softening our hearts to see, hear, taste, and smell the miracles that God is doing every day, miracles that the disciples themselves missed because of their “hardened hearts.” Courage is trusting that the economy of the Kingdom of Heaven is one of abundance, not scarcity – although everything in the world tells us otherwise.
Courage is walking through the penitential season of Lent, plodding unflinchingly towards the blackness of the Good Friday tomb, trusting that once again God will bring life out of death. Courage is making space for the still, small voice of God – a voice that might indeed be calling us not to something small but to something very, very big.
– Sarah Taylor