The gospel according to Joel

Posted: January 30, 2011 in Uncategorized


“Oh ye of little faith.” — Jesus

Fishermen (youthrillme@wordpress.com)

Why I woke up with this Bible scene in my head beats my idea of surreal.

It was due perhaps to yesterday’s marathon corporate planning stint that ran from 7am to 9pm at Discovery Suites. The Philippines Graphic and its sister publications including the BusinessMirror and Cook came together to draft a marketing strategy for 2011. It was in many ways a fruitful gathering as I am a believer in the axiom that two heads are better than one (hurray for the male of the species).

The scene was the Lord resting in a boat with his disciples somewhere in the Sea of Galilee, if I remember the biblical account correctly. Jesus, exhausted perhaps from walking the dusty roads of Judea, chose to take a little boat ride with his pals, only to fall asleep later in the trip.

The husky fisherman Peter was slumped on one side, taking in the familiar scent of water and fish, while ogling a horizon thick with storm clouds. Without warning, the waves began to swell as a burly wind tossed the small wooden boat here and there.

It would’ve been understandable for John or Thomas to begin reacting like little girls caught between a really bad B-movie and the bloody fangs of Little Red Riding Hood’s wolf. I recall one trip to Taal Lake where our fishing boat’s motor, around midnight, conked out, and only a brittle wooden boat stood between me and an ominous lake and the threat of one excruciating death by drowning. Nothing can be so hair-raising for a totally land-based, heavy-as-a-rock mammal like myself.

However, it was Peter the fisherman who completely lost it that day by the Sea of Galilee.

Odd as it may seem for Peter—a man accustomed to the tossing temper of wind and sea—to fear the water’s rage, it must’ve been with good reason.

I thought it odd, too, at first, until a trip to Occidental Mindoro, years back, proved me wrong. Before we arrived at the port near Abra de Ilog, a number of fishermen had reportedly died during a freak monsoon storm that ravaged Mindoro Strait two days earlier. The port was rife with tragic tales of still missing fishermen by the time we reached the province.

I can almost see this huge hunk of a man trembling on his knees knowing full well what nature’s rage can do while Jesus slept soundly like a newborn on fresh diapers. The winds and waves slapped the boat with such force it nearly toppled on its side. The Sea of Galilee was known for ghastly storms and ghostly apparitions, the latter being more frightening to fishermen than anything nature can throw at them.

I can’t particularly recall what Peter said in that one moment of unbelievable fright, but it was bad enough for Jesus to feel a bit pissed at his best friend. The Lord rose, nonetheless, raised his hands and exhorted the winds and waves to calm down. The sea and the winds obeyed. Thereafter Jesus calmly said in King James’ English, “Oh ye of little faith,” which can be loosely translated to mean, in today’s English, “Have you totally gone nuts, Peter? Have you forgotten you can swim?”

It was Peter, compared to all the rest who went in the boat, who had the best chance at surviving, being a fisherman. The storm that hit the Sea of Galilee was no where near the tempests that regularly ravage Mindoro Strait. Fear, apparently at this point, had much to do with being totally senseless than simply fearing for your life.

“What manner of man is this that he can command the winds and the waves to obey him?” asked Peter. What manner of man is this was the second wrong question for the day. If I were Peter, I would’ve asked Jesus, “Hey, you think you can teach me to do that? That was awesome!”

Fear comes with such compelling force in our lives that often we find ourselves constrained because of it. We end up thinking the wrong things and asking the wrong questions, if questions at all are warranted. We fail to remember and often overlook the fact that God, despite what seems like his sleepy silence, is within reach of our words, even of prayers thin and trembling at the seams, ever ready to command the storms in our lives to obey his bidding.

Nothing escapes Him, even when we feel His eyes are closed to the tempests that every so often make life a tad more measly and cheerless.

Have a great weekend, folks!

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JOEL PABLO SALUD is the chief editor of the Philippines Graphic magazine, the country’s top newsweekly publication under the ALC Group of Publications, which include the BusinessMirror.  He is with the Unyon ng Manunulat sa Pilipinas (UMPIL) and regularly writes literary reviews as a member of the Manila Critics Circle.

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