The second Sunday in July is when we come together across the globe to celebrate Sea Sunday. Seafarers play a critical role in our daily lives, most often unrealised and unnoticed amidst the plentiful material goods we enjoy delivered by ship to our shores. Seafarers face unimaginable hardships and dangers at sea under conditions that should not be tolerated in the modern world.
Covid-19 has exacerbated the seafarers’ plight. Repatriation to their homelands is massively delayed after many months at sea due to closed borders and outbreaks at interconnecting ports. Here, in Brisbane, Centacare’s Stella Maris ministry is extremely limited in how it can support seafarers at this time. The centre prepares and delivers care packs to seafarers and attends to emergency requests of various types. A friendly wave from the wharf as goods are dropped off is the only contact possible between the Centacare workers and the seafarers.
This limited access and activity might seem such a token gesture to alleviate the great need on board the ships in the Port of Brisbane. Today’s Gospel provides the assurance that in the face of seeming human helplessness and hopelessness, if we commit ourselves to Christ’s mission, in faith, then we don’t need very much at all to make a difference in the lives of others. All the resources in the world could be available to help others and yet, with virtually nothing, Jesus sends out his disciples on mission.
When we abandon our own agendas and self-satisfying motives in our outreach to others, great things can happen. Jesus asks us, as he did his disciples of the day, to trust him, to go out in his name, in the face of all kinds of human and spiritual need, and the little bit of help we feel we are giving can be transformed into an abundance of grace in others’ lives and in our own.
Today, we pray for all seafarers throughout the world, and their families, for an abundance of grace in their lives.