Battling a headwind

Antoine de St Exupery, French pioneer aviator and writer, described how, in the 1930s, he flew his little plane down the east coast of Patagonia to deliver the mails.

He met a powerful wind off the Andes mountains which kept blowing him out to sea like a leaf off a tree. He struggled to make his way back against the wind to follow the coastline south. He later reflected, “man measures himself against the obstacle.” A person discovers who they are in the face of something that opposes them.

They can run away. More perversely, they can twist it to their advantage. There were two horrific examples this week of what “man” can do in a crisis. One was in Sicily where forest fires raged. People were struggling to fight the fires but there were a few who secretly went and spread the fire. A money allowance is given to those who volunteer as firefighters and these few wanted more money. Another case was in South Africa where police struggle to contain crime. In one location they managed to collect a number of illegally held guns but it later came out that some police then sold the same guns back to the criminals.

But most of us, in the face of a headwind, want to resist and push back. One “headwind” that troubles many in our generation is stress. Students are under pressure to study subjects that make them employable, subjects that narrow rather than broaden their horizon. Adults work long hours at a job that is in itself insecure and their marriage comes under strain. They have no time for their kids. The challenges mount. By many accounts this situation is going to to get worse.

I once visited the Sea of Galilee. It is a peaceful place. But seemingly it can get stormy all of a sudden and the disciples of Jesus had experiences of this. We are told of a time they were battling a heavy sea due to a headwind. They were making little progress, and wondering if they would make it. Then they suddenly saw him “walking on the water” towards them. They were terrified but he tried to calm them. Peter, with impetuous love, walks on the water but his courage fails him.

If we lay hold of the treasures of our faith we will meet Jesus coming towards us in the midst of the heavy sea. He will say to us, “Courage, it is I! Do not be afraid!” He will always be there coming towards us in the midst of our stress.  He is not a ghost or a placebo. He is real. “The wind dropped.” The headwind gives way to calm in his presence.

13 August 2017                                  Sunday 19 A

1 Kings 19:9-13                                  Romans 9:1-5                     Matthew 14:22-33

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