Saturday, January 30, 2010

With Jesus by our side, no storm can break us (Saturday, Week III in Ordinary Time, Mark 4:35-41)

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples: “Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat,so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up,rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm.Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

* * * * * * * * * * *

The lake of Galilee was notorious for its storms. They literally came out of nowhere with shattering and terrifying suddenness, and the voyager across the lake was always liable to encounter just such sudden storm as the disciples in this passage from Mark.

We do this story far less justice, however, if we merely take the miracle Jesus did in a literalistic sense. If it describes no more than a physical miracle in which an actual sotrm was stilled, it is very wonderful and is something at which we must indeed marvel. But to regard it simply as such is to see it as some awesome thing that happened in the past and cannot happen again, in which case the story remains external to us.

If we read it, however, in a more symbolic sense (without of course denying the literal sense), we find far greater value and significance in Mark's story. When the disciples became aware of the presence of Jesus in the boat, the storm was calmed. Once they knew that he was there with them, a fearless peace entered their hearts and calmed their souls.

To go on a voyage through life with Jesus is to always voyage in peace, even in the most terrifying of storms. This is true, not only then (with the disciples), but with us (his disciples today).

Mark's story isn't about a miracle that only happened once, at a definite point in history, but something that happens to us, over and over again. With Jesus by our side, we can have the greatest sense of peace no matter how difficult the trials of life.

It is a fact that the crosses of life will not spare even the most faithful among us. And yet, whatever our cross or trial might be, it is equally a fact that when Jesus is with us, we will never be broken by any storm.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)