THE SEARCHING QUESTIONS
READ: Matthew 14:22-33
“In the fourth watch of the night, Jesus approached the boats on which the disciples were sailing; He appeared to them as if He were walking on the stormy waters of the Galilee. Thinking they were seeing a ghost, they were terrified. But Jesus called out to them, ‘Courage! It is me. Do not be afraid!’ Peter then called back, ‘Lord, if it is You, beckon me to come to you across the water.’ Jesus answered, ‘Come.’ Then Peter got out of the boat and started walking across the waters towards Jesus. But then feeling the stormy winds, Peter became fearful and began to sink. He cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus then reached out and grabbed hold of him saying to Peter,”You have such little faith. Why did you doubt?'”
– Matthew 14:25–31
Benedictine spirituality emphasizes “quality of spirit, quality of life, quality of love.” In our quest to allow God’s Spirit to perfect the quality of our spirit, life, and love, we often ask ourselves what we term – The Searching Questions. These are questions that find their worth not so much in their being answered but in the being asked.
The other day the Abbot announced to us at our morning Chapter meeting here at Greyfriars’ Abbey, “As you go about your today, please be looking for a white rosary. One of our guests lost it over the weekend. It is a legacy from her grandmother and means much to her” And so, wherever we were that day, whatever we were doing, we kept a sharp eye out for that rosary. At the end of the day, I had found a lost key, a lost knife, a broken pencil, a Canadian quarter, and a white feather – maybe, a feather from a dove. Other Brothers and Novices also came upon previously unseen things … but the guest’s white rosary was not among them. The Searching Questions work in a similar way.
Now we did not invent the concept of The Searching Questions, rather we found them long ago spoken in the voice of God, in the voice of the psalmist and the prophet, but, most of all, in the voice of Christ. One of those Searching Question, I believe, is found in the account of Peter trying to walk on the stormy waters. As Peter begins to founder, as Christ reaches out to rescue him, Jesus asks, “O Peter, you have such little faith. Why did you doubt?” We have no record of Peter’s answer. The question is asked … ad, I believe, begins a lifetime of searching through Peter’s soul …”Why did I doubt?”
Why do we doubt? Ask it not as a confrontational critic of our faith … but instead, ask it as an exploration of our human psyche. “Why DO we doubt?” Is it fear? Is it anxiety? Is it the aspect of the unknown that always haunts matters of faith? Is it our lack of experience with such matters? Is it our awareness of our own human frailty, our own human mortality, our own human pride that is always desiring to have more power that is given to us? Why DO we doubt?
It is my belief that Jesus had no expectation for Peter to walk on the water. As far as I know … neither Peter nor any of the disciples in the history of the Church has ever walked on water. Jesus understood that human souls are not well-equipped to walk on water … swans and ducks float effortlessly upon the waters, but human souls, even Christian souls are expected to walk on the waters. It was Peter who wanted to prove himself to Jesus … and maybe also to his fellow disciples. “Lord, this is pretty amazing stuff, you walking on the waters. Mighty impressive. Give me such a power.” I imagine Jesus thinking …“Peter, you and your fellow disciples are to keep to the boats. You are a fisherman. Sail these boats to safe harbor. But, Peter, let me take this opportunity to show you something about the nature of the faith and the nature of human souls. Come, walk on the waters.”With his first steps, Peter begins to sink and he must cry, “Lord, save me!”“Yes, Peter, faith is not about proving yourself to be a god, but about reaching out for the help of God to save you.” Now, Peter … look within your soul … what causes you doubt when you so want to demonstrate mighty faith? Peter … what is it about being human that causes human souls to doubt?
Why DO we doubt when we feel the storm rising? Why DO we?
So, Christ and those who practice the Benedictine approach to Christian discipleship keep asking the questions for which there is no full and final answer … but in the searching, so much is found.
Brother Anthony of the Cross
For the latest installment of the ongoing story, The Mystic Realms of Shadow Fox, just click … https://greyfriarsabbey.wordpress.com/the-mystic-reams-of-shadow-fox/ … The installments are separated by ********* with the latest being at the end (obviously).
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