Mark 4: 35–41
In Mark’s gospel, Jesus is presented as one who loves to tell stories, such as the one we find in today’s gospel. There are few more frightening experiences than to be in a small boat on a large body of water when a sudden squall comes up. The disciples are experienced fishermen, but they know how helpless they are in a turbulent sea.
The disciples do not understand how Jesus can be so calm at a time of mortal danger. We know, however, that in his baptism he has been empowered to deal with all kinds of chaotic situations. He has been sent by his heavenly Father to restore creation and to drive back the powers of darkness and chaos that have entered our lives through sin. He touches sick people and their health is restored; he confronts demons and they are banished; he brings peace and harmony where there had been fear and hopelessness.
Jesus has this power for good because he is in touch with the Creator who has sent him to bring to us that love which enables God to view all of creation and to declare it to be “very good” (Genesis 1: 31).
In our personal lives, we experience wonderful moments of peace and joy and harmony; but we also have to deal frequently with the challenge of our own kinds of chaos, such as physical ailments, mental anxiety, and all the many causes of fear and uncertainty. It is amazing how easily a “calm sea” can change into a “raging storm” of doubt, fear, and virtual helplessness.
We need to know how we, like the disciples, can call upon Jesus and suddenly find that our stormy sea becomes calm and serene. Jesus tells us that it is a matter of faith: “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” We may be tempted to respond that we do indeed have faith for we can say “Amen” to all the statements of the Creed. That is an important kind of faith, but it is not as real and personal as the faith that God wants us to have.
The faith that calms storms in our lives is a conviction that the Risen Lord is present in our world more truly than he ever was to the disciples in Israel. This kind of faith is a special gift of God for which we must pray not only when we are in trouble but especially when things are going well. When his heavenly Father said to Jesus in his baptism: “You are my beloved Son,” he was endowing him with the power of divine love that he would then offer to all of us. In effect, this is the kind of loving presence that speaks to us every moment of our lives and which can be expressed in those reassuring words that we need so much to hear: “I am with you always” (Matthew 28: 20), which means that love and trust will win out in the end.
Demetrius R. Dumm