And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Irenaeus, an early Christian bishop and martyr (c.130-200 AD). Irenaeus embodied a bold vision of Christian living. In today’s gospel Jesus admonishes his disciples in these words: “Why are you terrified, you of little faith?” Irenaeus invited those of his era to stretch their horizons in words often translated: “The glory of God is found in a person fully alive.” The deeper challenge of this phrase comes clear in this longer sentence by Irenaeus: “The only true and steadfast Teacher, the Word of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, through his transcendent love, became what we are, that he might bring us to be what he is himself” (Against Heresies, Book 5, preface).
The first Christians had a very clear understanding of the unity of everything. As humans, we are one with the whole material world. All that exists is created and kept in being by the love of God, the maker of all things. The act of bridging the immense gulf between God and the physical world, drawing human beings into a life like his, was no haphazard afterthought; it was part of God’s loving plan and intention from the dawn of creation. We are loved as we are, for all that we can become through the life and communion that God offers each day. What does this horizon of faith look like in my life today—June 28, 2016?
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
It is not you who shapes God;
it is God who shapes you.
If then you are the handiwork of God
await the hand of the Artist
who does all things in due season.
Offer the pottery of your heart,
soft and tractable,
and keep well the form
in which the Artist has fashioned you.
Let your clay be moist,
lest you grow hard
and lose the imprint of the Potter’s fingers.
—St. Irenaeus, in For You, O God: Prayers and Reflections. Loyola University Chicago, 1998.