King Canute v God

 2021 12th Sunday of the Year (B)

In school we were taught a lot about the Danes; as you may know they invaded England. I don’t remember much but I, like most children, would always remember King Canute: he was Danish and a king of England. He had a reputation for being wise and powerful. Such was his reputation that his followers even believed he could control the sea. And so, one day they sat him on his throne on a beach. He then asked the waves to stop. But, of course, they didn’t; and he got very wet.  No one can control the sea but God. 

In today’s gospel Jesus is on a boat on the sea of Galilee. The waters are getting very rough. The boat is taking in so much water that it begins to sink. The experienced fishermen were panicking. Jesus on the other hand, was in the stern of the boat, his head on a cushion, asleep. He was obviously not worried. Indeed, unlike Canute, he was able to stop the waves. We are told: ‘he woke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Quiet now! Be calm!” And immediately, all was calm again.  The disciples asked each other: “who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.”  They didn’t realize that he was the Son of the all-powerful God.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been on a boat and frightened of sinking. But I suspect you have been in difficulty sometime in your life and probably more than once. The image of waves breaking over the boat is a good one. Sometimes our lives can be like that; we feel we’re drowning. I know a lovely lady who was married to a very famous entertainer. She had a lovely family and she seemed to have everything. And yet she felt she was sinking beneath the waves. In her despair she fell to her knees one morning and begged God to help her. And before she could get up her phone rang. It was a friend who said she did not know why but she felt compelled to call her. This lady learned that God heard her cry for help. And just as He helped her so He will help us. The God we believe in is looking after us, even though there are times when it doesn’t feel like it. God has the power to change our lives, to lift us up out of the darkness, to fill our hearts with peace and joy. And he is only a prayer away. We may leave Him but He will never leave us. 

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