Can You Walk on Water?

When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”

He said, “Come.”

Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Can you walk on water? Have you tried? Like Peter, we all have doubts.

  • We are told “be not afraid,” yet we are still filled with fear.
  • We are told “do not let your heart be troubled,” yet our hearts are often filled with worry and anxiety.
  • We are told to “trust in the Lord with all your heart,” yet there are times when we try to figure out everything ourselves without asking God for guidance.

We all begin to sink. And then we cry out: “Lord, save me.”

“O you of little faith.”

Starting today, I’m going to practice walking on water. Every move I make on solid earth, I will imagine that I’m traveling atop a smooth, clear body of water.

I take one step after another.

I move safely from shore-to-shore.

All doubt and fear is removed from me.

I am filled with faith.

All because Jesus simply says, “Come.”

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.

 

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Together. With Love.

This week I met Michelle and Steve.

Michelle is an energetic and passionate woman who worked in the nursing field in Madison, Wisconsin for many years. She had a job and a home that she loved.

Then, one day, God called her.

Michelle’s mother was battling cancer an hour away in Milwaukee. And it was not going well. The treatments were taking a toll on her body, and she was struggling with day-to-day activities.

Michelle listened to what God was asking of her. It was time to leave the home and job that she loved, and it was time to move to Milwaukee to care for Mom.

God called, and Michelle listened.

“It’s never easy to watch anyone suffer, but it’s even more difficult when it’s your mother,” Michelle said. “But I am glad that I was there. It was a very spiritual experience. Both sad and uplifting as I watched her pass on.”

When Michelle lost Mom, she found Steve. Steve, equally as energetic and passionate, worked in the nursing field in Milwaukee. He met Michelle during her frequent hospital visits with Mom. Michelle and Steve knew they were meant for each other.

If it wasn’t for God’s call, she never would have met and fallen in love with Steve.

But then God called again.

Steve was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. It is the second most commonly diagnosed blood cancer after non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The cancer grows out of control quickly, crowding out the normal cells.

Steve has no family in the Milwaukee area.

“I don’t know where I would be right now without Michelle. She is literally keeping me alive with her support and assistance. She helps me manage my medication, takes me for treatment; she takes care of my every need.”

While they are optimistic, the future does not look good for Steve’s battle. They know their days together are numbered.

God continues to call them, inviting them to savor every moment of every day. And that’s what they’re doing. Together. With love.

Is God calling you today? Are you listening?

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK

 

Courage

My friend Sara recently left her job in Wisconsin and accepted a new position as the Director of Public Relations for an Ohio school district. When Sara told me about the job, she was bubbling with enthusiasm.

“I get to celebrate the students and showcase all of their hard work and talents. I get to recognize all of the great things this group accomplishes every single day.”

She rattled off her communication plans, including enhancing their social media presence and updating the school websites.

Sara couldn’t wait to get started.

Then on February 14, 2018, Nikolas Cruz walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and everything changed. While Stoneman Douglas High School is in Parkland, Florida, the effects were felt all the way to Ohio.

“We instantly had copy-cat threats at our high school,” Sara told me. “It was horrible. We expelled two students in a one week period. One said he was going to ‘burn the school down.’ The other said he was going to ‘shoot the school up.’”

They had other threats on a regular basis. While none of them were acted out—most claimed that they were just joking—the school executives took every threat seriously.

Sara’s job instantly changed. Her celebration of students was put on hold. She worked closely with the school’s superintendent and together they tried to stay one step ahead. But it wasn’t easy. The emotion of if all took its toll on Sara. Every day she would leave for home exhausted from stress.

So what did this school district do next?

They made a few phone calls. They held a lot of meetings. And they formed an alliance.

They reached out to a number of local churches for help. These churches would act as counselors. They would offer advice on how to communicate with the student population. They would suggest ideas on how to calm the fears.

In other words, this Ohio school district turned to God.

It’s not often that a public school system has the courage to embrace faith as a solution.

Sara still has a lot of work to do. She knows that the road ahead will be challenging. But she now knows she’s not traveling down this road alone.

The next time you’re experiencing a difficult situation, think of Sara and the Ohio school district. Remind yourself of who you are and what you believe.

Have the courage to simply say, “with God, all things are possible.”

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.

 

The Upper Room

Imagine a group of men gathered together in one room. Imagine the conversations and the quiet moments. Imagine the anxiety at every small noise or large shadow.

Imagine the remaining disciples, living every moment in fear, locked in The Upper Room after Jesus was crucified and buried.

According to Mark, The Upper Room was a large chamber furnished with couches and suitable for a dining room. It was here in The Upper Room, only days earlier, twelve men and Jesus broke bread and drank wine together.

It was here in The Upper Room, Jesus washed the feet of the men He had traveled with over the past several years.

It was here in The Upper Room, Jesus declared that one of these men, men that he loved, would betray Him.

Scholars have often discussed the age of the disciples. Many have theorized that the twelve may have been a bit younger than Jesus. That would put the apostles’ ages somewhere in their 20’s at the time of the crucifixion.

Imagine young men in their twenties, locked together in fear, wondering what happened to their lives, wondering what they should do next.

And then they get their answer. And of course it happened in The Upper Room.

“Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” (John 20)

Today, many of us continue to live in our own Upper Room. We may lock the doors. We may live in some sort of fear. We may even wonder, what happened to my life? What should I do next?

But like the disciples, we have reason to rejoice. Because the next thing that Jesus said in The Upper Room 2000 years ago, He also says to us today:

“Peace be with you. As the father has sent me, so I send you.”

Jesus is sending us out into the world. He is entrusting us to continue His mission. He’s asking us to live our lives with God at the center of everything that we do.

That’s something that is easy to imagine.

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.

 

Once is Enough

There was a story that circulated many years ago that the phrase “Do not be afraid” appears in the Bible 365 times, once for each day of the year.

While this is a nice idea, it did not turn out to be true.

Many Catholic websites do however indicate that “Do not be afraid” or “Be Not Afraid” are indeed the most repeated phrases in the Bible. In fact, they appear over 100 times through the Old and New Testaments in various forms.

We human beings are worriers. We worry about money, we worry about our health, we worry about our kids, we worry about…everything.

While there may be 100+ references that we may read for comfort in the Bible, there is only one specific reference that we truly need:

From Matthew, Chapter 28: 

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it…

“…I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said…”

Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples.

And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.

Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

Do not be afraid because I have died for your sins and returned from the dead. Just as I promised.

The next time you feel a wave of worry or are overcome with anxiety, imagine yourself running with the two Marys away from the tomb. See Jesus in front of you, standing in the road. Picture Him smiling at you as you embrace His feet.

Imagine Him turning to you, looking directly into your eyes and saying, “Do not be afraid.”

We don’t need it 365 times. Once is enough.

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK.

 

 

Peter

This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about Peter.

Peter was not only a Disciple of Jesus, but he was Jesus’s friend. He, along with James and John, formed the “inner circle.”

They had a unique relationship with Christ on earth, and shared a variety of moments together. Two of those moments included the Transfiguration and the Agony in the Garden. (Talk about moments that will change you forever!)

Peter loved Jesus. And Jesus loved Peter.

Which makes the denial in Courtyard after Jesus was arrested that much more confusing and sad. Every year, when we hear the Passion of Christ, we all think the same thing: how could Peter deny him? What was he thinking?

This always makes me wonder: what would I have done if I were Peter back in the Courtyard? Would I have had the courage to say, “Yes, I know this man. I was with Him. I believe in him. He is my friend.”

Or would I do everything in my power to avoid being called out, arrested, and eventually crucified. (I’m not sure any of us can truly comprehend the pain and suffering of crucifixion.)

I’d like to think that I would defend Jesus, that my convictions would be strong. But fear is a powerful master and it has a way of controlling our thoughts and actions. After all, Peter loved Jesus, he followed Jesus, he was one of His most important disciples. And Peter still denied Jesus.

So here we are, some 2000-odd-years later, and I ask myself an important question. Am I denying Christ in some way today?

  • Am I denying Him with my words or actions?
  • Am I denying Him with my lack of words or actions?
  • Am I denying Him by putting my own personal needs above what He is calling me to be?

Or do I stand proud and say, “Yes, I know this man. I walk with him daily. I believe in Him. He is my friend?”

What do I have to be afraid of?

 

Dan Herda is an editor for theROCK.

 

Sgt. Pepper’s and the Sermon on the Mount

Several years, Rolling Stone Magazine chose the top 500 albums of all time. Number one on the list, was The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The magazine said: “Sgt. Pepper’s is the most important rock & roll album ever made, an unsurpassed adventure in concept, sound, songwriting, cover art and studio technology by the greatest rock & roll group of all time.”

The album, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, is filled with timeless hits, still played by millions today. The beauty of these “hits” is that all of the songs on the album fit perfectly together; they form one cohesive theme and sound.

What if we ranked the greatest hits in Scripture, Jesus’s theme or message? What would be our number one?

I think The Sermon on the Mount would be ranked extremely high, if not right near the top by Christians everywhere.

Think about the “hits” from these writings:

  • We learn the Beatitudes (“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”)
  • We hear about salt and light (“Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”)
  • We hear the teachings about the law (“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”)
  • We hear about anger (“But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.”)
  • We learn to pray (“This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…”)
  • We learn the Golden Rule (“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.”)

And the hits just keep on coming, all with one cohesive theme and sound.

These words challenge us. They make us ponder who we are. They ask us to examine how we are living our lives every single day.

We often return to a classic or favorite album, listening to it over and over for joy and comfort.

Wouldn’t it be nice to do the same with these inspiring words?

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK

 

 

Jesus Prayed

“It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.” -Luke 6:12

If you travel to the Sea of Galilee today, you notice that the towns where Jesus frequented are very close together. While Jesus would often welcome the crowds as he spoke, He often found himself needing some time alone. He frequently retreated to nearby desolate places, seeking out some quiet time.

In fact, there’s a cave not far from Capernaum where many think He spent a great deal of time praying. They call it the Eremos Cave. (Eremos means solitary—it’s where we get the word Hermit.)

This got me thinking…Jesus? Prayer? Wasn’t He the Son of God? Why did He need to pray?

While Jesus indeed was the Son of God, He was also a human being on Earth. The prayers that we know He spoke often reflect our own humanity:

  • Fear (“Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.”)
  • Desperation (“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”)
  • Gratitude (“And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples.”)

Jesus faced similar challenges and emotions that each one of us faces on a daily basis. But what Jesus understood was that in order to overcome the earthly challenges and to handle the strong daily emotions, He needed his Father in his life. He connected to God through prayer.

Jesus was indeed a human, but He was also the Son of God. And He believed in the power of prayer.

Is there any doubt what I should be focusing on this Lent?

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK for St. Dominic Catholic Parish.

 

Keeping Her Family Strong

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.” -Isaiah 43:2

Last week I met Mariam and Amal. Mariam is a Syrian Refugee, a mother of 11 children. Amal is her bright, funny, smart, fifth grade son. When you meet him, you would never know what his family had recently experienced.
 
Mariam’s family has been in the U.S. for over a year, and they are still struggling to establish their home and make ends meet. When asked what her biggest worry is, Mariam smiles and says, “I don’t have a worry today. I used to worry that someone in my family would not make it through the day without being killed. God watched over us. So, I have no worries today.”
 
Mariam’s faith is what kept her and her family strong.
 
For many, worry is a horrible thing. Some people are held hostage by it. But it truly is one of the ways that prevents us from completely connecting with God.
 
  • What would happen if you truly trusted that God will guide you in every decision you have to make?
  • What would happen if you believed that God was there to hold your hand and walk with you through frightening times?
  • What would happen if you simply told yourself to stop worrying and ask God to watch over you?
Next time your anxious or full of worry, think about Mariam. Think about Amal and the rest of their family. Think about the fear that they endured…and how they survived.
Think about the trust they put in God’s hands and where they are today. 
It puts our world in perspective, doesn’t it?   

 

Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK and a member of the Marketing Committee at St. Dominic Catholic Church.

Our Tekton

“Is he not the carpenter,* the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” -Mark 6:3

When Jesus was on Earth, we referred to Him in the early part of his life as a “Carpenter.”  We pictured him as a man sawing, hammering and assembling pieces of wood. A craftsman.

Many scholars, however, point out that the word “Carpenter” may not be entirely accurate.

First of all, the majority of homes in Jesus’ time were constructed with stone. Jesus and Joseph would have created most of their projects by chiseling or carving the stone or stacking building blocks.

Secondly, Jesus was actually referred to as a “Tekton,” a Greek word that when translated to English is “Carpenter.”

According to experts, a Tekton was known as a person who repaired things. When you had something that needed mending, redesigned or built, he was the Man to call. He was what we would refer to as “Mr. Fix-it.”

So isn’t it remarkable that 2000 years later, in the middle of the holy season of Lent, that we’re still calling upon our Tekton? We’re asking Him to repair our lives. We’re praying to Him to mend our souls.

We’re acknowledging that we need His help to fix what we can’t fix on our own.

Share your thoughts with us. What has Jesus repaired in your life?