Copyright © Edward Riojas
Unless you have been living under a rock, it’s hard to ignore the deterioration of society. Memes and links posted on social media are laden with the latest shockers of humanity at its worst. Late-term abortion, gender denial, socialism, and the overarching lack of ethics, logic, and common sense all demand our attention. It’s so bad that annoying cat videos have become a welcome relief.
The constant attacks on our society have grown into a very real monster, and the fear is palpable. We wonder how such a thing could have gotten so large and out of control. We were brought up in Christian households. We tried to do the right things. We lived as law-abiding citizens, craving not much more than apple pie and our team in the World Series. We assumed that even the non-believers had the common decency to mirror us. We now watch, wide-eyed, as this menace slowly circles about us. We wonder how this happened; how to escape it; how to stop it.
One of the earliest Christian symbols for the Church was a boat. In an obvious reference to the events surrounding Christ Jesus calming the storm, a simple fishing boat surpassed an earlier symbol of the much larger ark as a common identifier of the whole Christian Church. This boat had a single mast and a single sail.
Other early symbols of the Church, such as the Rock and the City on a hill, used bulk and strength in their designs. The tempests of the world could rage all they wanted, but the Rock would not be moved, and the City on a hill would be a brilliant light to all. Not so the Boat.
The Church, as a Boat, would be thrown about the sea of life, and waves would threaten Her. Monsters would circle Her. Like the disciples riding out the storm, we wonder. We wonder what will happen. We wonder how things have gotten to this point. And, if we are honest with ourselves, we sometimes wonder why God is sleeping.
It is very easy, as Christians, to stand in the shoes of “Jaws” character, Chief Brody, and suddenly feel that the Boat is totally insufficient and vulnerable and inconsequential. It is then that Holy Scripture gently reminds us in 1 Peter 4:12, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” And again in 2 Corinthians 12: 9a, ““My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.””
It is wise that my artistic forebears chose a simple fishing boat as a symbol for the Church, and not a Roman galley or some other massive battleship. Yes, the Church will get assaulted by all manner of worldly storms, and it may seem Her hull is too thin; Her sail is too small; Her size is of little consequence. Our Lord, however, quietly abides with us, as He ever will. That is sufficient for us, and infinitely more.