Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

This weekend’s gospel passage is one of my favorites in the Bible because it presents the great- ness of God, human weaknesses and, what is most important, how one helps the other. The text is rich in symbolism; the sea represents our lives and how sometimes it is difficult to navigate (the storm); but in the middle of it, in the middle of life when things seems lost or when there is no hope, Jesus appears, telling us “It is I, do not be afraid.”

Many times, we have heard this phrase, but it is only in the reality of trusting the Lord that we can find in Him the reason for not being afraid; it is only in our consciousness of God’s continued presence in our lives that we are able to take courage.

The key to the gospels is the recognition of the presence of God in our world. From the news each day, we can sense that in all of the tragedies of war, aggression, violence – which are like the storm in the gospel – there seems to be no possibility of peace. And… in contemplating that reality, we are fearful. There is no option to escape from this fear; the only way we can over- come it is to look around and see the presence of God in the world.

God’s presence changes the way we see or perceive the events of life. Many times, the events themselves will not change. Violence, sickness and death are still here, but we need not be afraid, because God is also with us. The voice of God, telling us “It is I,” should be the sign we need to recognize His presence.

Sometimes, we find it difficult to sense the presence of God, to see and to know that there are good things in the world. Remember what our Pope, quoting an old proverb, said: “A falling tree makes more noise than a growing forest.” Indeed, this is precisely the reality of our world: there is a great amount of good, and there are many ways to see God’s presence among us.

Do not let the storms of life or the things that we do not understand discourage us, or stop us from doing the work of God in the world. Take courage, do not be afraid. You are not alone. God is with you.

-Fr. Sergio