Water and Pork Chops

Saturday of the Second Week of Easter
April 22, 2023

Today’s Readings:


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, little “disruptions” pop up in the center of both our readings.

In Acts, some of the Greek Christians think they are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to food distribution.

Believe me, I can picture the situation using personal experience. When I was an 18 year old postulant, I was a tall, skinny athlete — and I ate a lot of food. I wasn’t used to living in community, and I hadn’t noticed how my voracious appetite might be affecting those around me at the table.

In those “olden days”, the fifty-two of us freshly minted mini-nuns sat “in rank”, i.e according to age. The food was passed down the table from oldest to youngest. When I came to supper one night, the sister below me in rank had moved up a seat to be before me. I thought she just got mixed up about where her chair was so I asked her about it.

She told me she moved up in order to get a pork chop before I took them all!

Well, that’s what the Hellenists are doing in today’s reading which illustrates that living in community is a practical exercise as well as a spiritual one. That practicality calls upon us to make prudent arrangements for the community such as the disciples did in appointing more presbyters led by Stephen.

For us in our various communities today, the reading reminds us to think about the “pork chops” – who needs what and are they getting what they need. This principle holds for both spiritual and material needs and goods. Like the new presbyters, we each have a part to play in achieving that equity within our communities – including families, neighborhoods, churches, workplaces, and the world we share with all Creation.

While our Gospel event is narrated in both Matthew and Mark, John gives us his own colorful version of the story of Jesus walking on the water. John highlights the conditions of the sea and atmosphere: darkness, the gusty wind, a turbulent ocean, and the absence of Jesus from the boat:

When it was evening, the disciples of Jesus went down to the sea,
embarked in a boat, and went across the sea to Capernaum.
It had already grown dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.
The sea was stirred up because a strong wind was blowing.

John 6:16-18

So John makes it clear that it was the customary “dark and scary night“. But the disciples, tossed in the tumult, never express fear until they see Jesus walking across the water toward them. It seems they are less afraid of nature’s power than they are of the power of God!

Jesus sees their fear and tells them not to be afraid. In a phrase reminiscent of God’s self-revelation to Moses ( I am Who am), Jesus simply says, “It is I” — I am God. I am with you. Do not be afraid.

The disciples are still a little nervous and seem to prefer a less omnipotent Jesus . They ask him to get into the boat (in other words, “Be normal – not a Water-Walker”). But Jesus ignores the invitation and simply transports the boat to shore. One might picture the Twelve, tossed up on the shore, mouths agape and beginning to realize that their whole world was being turned upside-down in Christ!

Maybe we’re a little bit like the disciples sometimes. Sometimes we like God in small doses – not in a brilliant revelation or an irresistible call. Jesus snoozing beside us in the boat is comfortable. A radiant God coming to us in our life’s storms is a little harder to adjust to.

Our readings today remind us that God is present in every aspect of our lives – the daily practicalities and the topsy-turvy revelations. God may sit beside us in the boat, or might drag us stunned into another graced shore. But we should not be afraid in any case. Just prayerfully listen for the assurance, “It is I!”

Poetry: Walking on Water – Mark Jarmon

       Always the same message out of Matthew.
The water Jesus walks on is life’s turbulence.
        He calms our trouble and lifts us up again.

To walk on water? That’s what’s puzzling—
        that feat of antimatter, defeat of physics,
those beautiful unshod feet of cosmic truth

        for whom the whole performance is child’s play.
And unless one becomes as a little child
        the kingdom’s inaccessible by any route.

That water, then, its broken surface tension,
        collision of fracturing waves, apparent chaos,
its fractals turning infinite and weaving

        the netted skin between worlds, that web
of light and gravity which underpins our faith,
        water, a substance, stormy or pacific,

we know a myriad ways to get across it.
        But simply walking on it? Literally?
How far do you think you’d go before you fell

        through that convergence between time and space?
The water Jesus walked on wasn’t water
        only. It was the storm that made it rock.

Music: Walk on Water – Elevation Rhythm

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