In today’s reading from Acts of the Apostles we see the Apostles dealing with the complaints of the people they are serving. The Hellenists complained that the Hebrews were not treating their widows fairly. Picture their faces (reminds me of the “eyes-rolling” emoji). Considering the big-picture, how much they had been through in recent months, and over the past 3 years with Jesus, how trivial this community issue of fair distribution must have seemed! Even 2000 years ago, Group A complains Group B is unfair regarding issue X; sound familiar?
What is comparably consistent is the Apostolic response. Put the problem squarely in the hands of those affected, have them select leaders filled with the Spirit and wisdom (Acts 6:3) in order that they mutually agree upon the solution, “The proposal was acceptable to the whole community” (Acts 6:5). This enables the Apostles to dedicate their time to prayer and ministry. They trusted in the goodness of the Lord, rather than trying to solve community problems, which others in the community could handle. They “prayed and laid hands on them” (Acts 6:6). This was sufficient to yield exponential results, exceeding all expectations, “The word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly; even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith. “ (Acts 6:7).
This is what happens when we place our trust in the Lord. He shows us mercy simply because we trusted in Him. He makes life’s challenges work out in our favor, usually far exceeding our own limited expectations. Envision the eyes of the Lord upon you. He delivers us and preserves us in spite of the troubles we face (Ps. 33:18-19).
Today’s realities are harsh and injustices abound. Pope Francis suggests that (economic) inequality is the root of all social ills. It is often hard not to be afraid, regardless of our true circumstances, security, and faith gifts. In today’s Gospel we see the Apostles fearful on the waters which they knew well. Some of them were seasoned sailors and fishermen, but the sea can be formidable and terrifying, demanding respect. Then along comes Jesus, with His power over nature calming both the storm and his friends “It is I. Do not be afraid” (John 6:20). Take time to reflect on what is scaring you, what makes you afraid? Place yourself on the boat with the terrified Apostles. How do you feel when you see Jesus coming toward you to help? How do his eyes, and his big smile make you feel?
“They wanted to take him into the boat, but the boat immediately arrived at the shore to which they were heading” (John 6:21). Note the fact that before they even realized it, they were already at the shore… problem solved! They trusted, and you have trusted Him. We often do not realize what is happening until suddenly we are relieved from some great pressure…delivered to our shore. My Dad, who will be with the Lord for 21 years as of April 24, used to always tell me, “Kiddo, the Lord won’t give you anything you can’t handle. So don’t sweat the small stuff.” Suddenly, we arrive at the shore.