Today’s ✠Challoner Meditation: December 5th on Our Lord’s stilling the storm at sea and feeding the multitude

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✠Challoner Meditation 5th December... calming the storm and feeding the multitudes



Consider first, the lessons we are to learn from the miracle of Christ’s stilling the storm at sea by his word, Matt. viii. 23, &c., ‘He entered into a ship, and his disciples followed him. And behold a great storm arose at sea, so that the ship was covered with the waves; but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awakened him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And Jesus said to them: Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up, he commanded the winds and the sea, and there came a great calm.’ Christians, we are all embarked as it were in a ship during our mortal life, in order to sail towards the haven of a blessed eternity. And for our comfort we have on board with us not only the disciples of Christ, that is, the pastors of the church, the successors of the apostles but also our Lord himself, according to his promise, Matt xxviii. 20, ‘Lo, I am with you all days, even to the end of the world.’ In this voyage we are often exposed to storms, which threaten sometimes the whole church – as in cases of grievous persecutions, heresies, or other more general evils; at other times we are in danger from temptations and tribulations, from which, more or less, no one can expect to be exempted in the midst of the winds and waves of the boisterous ocean of this world. But we have Christ on board with us, and therefore we have nothing to fear if we will but have proper recourse to him, with a lively faith and confidence in him. And though he oftentimes seems to sleep, and defers his aid, for a trial of our faith, and to make us more sensible of the necessity we have of him, and more earnest in praying to him, he will not fail in his good time, (if we continue, like his disciples, calling out to him, ‘Lord, save us: we perish,’) to rise up, and to command the winds and the sea, and restore a calm.

Consider 2ndly, the lessons we are also to learn from the miracles of our Saviour’s feeding at one time five thousand men with five loaves, and at another time four thousand with seven loaves. Our Lord himself has taught us, upon occasion of the former of these miracles, John vi. 26, 27, that we are not to seek or to follow him for the sake of the loaves – that is, for procuring a corporal livelihood or any temporal advantage – for this would be but catching at the shadow and losing the substance – that ‘we are not to labour for the meat that perisheth, but for that,’ said he, ‘which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man will give you.’ So that the great lesson he would have us to learn from his feeding the multitude is, that we should have recourse to him for the food and nourishment of our souls unto everlasting life; for that he himself is the living and life-giving bread, which, without any consumption or diminution, he distributes to all those that come to him, seeking from him the refreshment of their souls, either by communicating himself to them really in the holy sacrament, or spiritually by a communion of faith and love.

Consider 3rdly, in the miracles of our Lord’s feeding the multitude, what other lessons may be learnt from the circumstances in which he wrought these wonders. ‘I have compassion,’ said he, ‘on the multitude; for behold, they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat; and if I sent them away fasting to their own houses they will faint on the way, for some of them came from afar off,’ Mark viii. 2, 3. The people whom he favoured with these miracles had followed him into the desert; they had preferred the attending upon him, and the hearing of his divine word, before all other occupations or recreations; they had continued with him for three whole days, without taking any thought for their bodily nourishment; and therefore our Lord, after feeding their souls with the word of life, and healing all that stood in need of cure, was pleased to provide also for their corporal sustenance, according to what he promised, Matt vi. 33, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things (that is, meat, drink, and clothes,) shall be added unto you.’ Learn from hence, Christians, what wonders your Saviour is disposed to work In favour of those that follow him into the wilderness by a spiritual retreat – that is, by retiring from the noise and hurry of the world to attend upon him; that are not quickly wearied with his company, but continue diligently with him, (notwithstanding the difficulties and oppositions they meet with from the world, the flesh, and the devil,) and that gladly hearken to his divine word. O! such as these will not fail of being refreshed by him.

Conclude to follow Christ into the wilderness by making at least a little wilderness for him in thy own soul, and there frequently attending upon him by recollection and mental prayer, assure thyself that he will never send thee away fasting, but will have compassion of thee, and frequently feed thee with his hidden manna, lest thou faint in the way; for thou hast as yet a great way to go before thou canst reach thy eternal home.

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