Once again, this month we celebrated the feast of the Shipwreck of St Paul. When visiting Malta last April, Pope Francis referred to “the shipwreck of civilisation”, asking, “how can we save ourselves from this shipwreck which risks sinking the ship of our civilization?”
I was also struck by the reflections of Father Mauro Giuseppe Lepori at the Spiritual Exercises of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, held recently when he referred to the shipwreck of St Paul in Malta.
The story of this shipwreck is not only a sublime page of literature and documentation of the art of navigation in the Greco-Roman era, but also a page of sacred scripture that announces a perspective of faith on history and its tragedies, that enables us to better interpret and live what we are experiencing today in our lives and in every sphere.
Lipori encourages us to meditate on this scene, thinking of the shipwrecks of our time, from the pandemic to the war in Ukraine, with all of the political, economic, social, psychological, and also religious chaos it is provoking in the world. We should think of the more personal, or familial, or community shipwrecks we are involved in or that involve our loved ones and friends.
The ship Paul was traveling on symbolizes the world in which we find ourselves. Paul realized that all his traveling companions were not unimportant to his personal destiny, to the journey of his life following Christ. It was revealed to him that God would save all of them with him, that He would not save him without these people, who were totally ignorant and unaware of Christ.
Paul did not preach a powerful sermon to convert those sailors who were desperate for life. Paul clung to the presence of Him who is all of his substance, and he was tranquil and glad, without a flicker of fear, because Jesus was enough for him, the Risen One who had given Himself for Paul to the point of dying for him and for everyone, becoming Body and Blood to eat and drink, in the midst of the long and terrible storm, to nourish our life with His life.
Jesus is suffering in Ukraine. He is dying, abandoned by His loved ones, raped in the women; He is undergoing everything. We must only recognize Him. We can only truly renew our “yes” to Him where we are, in the life we are living, so that this may be manifested to our sisters and brothers in Ukraine, so that this may be manifested to everyone, even the Russians.
Precisely because He is there, this shipwreck is overcome. Precisely because He is there, this death is resurrected, this evil is vanquished. It will not dominate and will not have the final word.