This cry of terror came from the disciples in whose storm-buffeted boat slept their Savior. For 21st century disciples requiring a piece of scripture relevant to their lives, this is it. This gospel is aimed at anyone overwhelmed by fear. Lately, existential threats have given us many excuses to be fearful—and therefore to lose our moral mooring.
Case-in-point, Pandemic-Age waves have been buffeting many families’ houseboats for a couple years now, accentuating fears for their future and the desire to continue their isolation. Church attendance has dwindled steadily—reducing any chance for hearing the word of God with others on the same journey so they can help allay each other’s fears. Fear has shifted our normal outward connection to others inward, enabling the selfishness virus to displace Covid’s most dangerous effects.
Pity, because this Sunday’s readings offer a powerful antidote to that new strain. The faith, hope and love they demonstrate can help us attack the fear, doubt and selfishness walling-off our souls from others—and from God. Job’s inability to see God amidst the storms plaguing him (Jb 38:1, 8-11) caused The Almighty to reveal Himself and say to the angry seas:
Thus far shall you come but no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stilled!
Hard to tell if God was addressing nature’s renewed strengths or humanity’s ancient weaknesses.
With Jesus’s entry on the scene, God helped us navigate a route beyond our flesh and away from our fear. As Paul tells the Corinthians in Sunday’s second reading (2 Cor 5:14-17), our flesh was stripped away with Christ’s:
From now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer. So whoever is in Christ is a new creation.
Maybe it would be easier to find our courage by realizing Christ is within us. In “The Spiritual Canticle,” John of the Cross put into words the conviction that has given saints the courage to give their lives to God: “You yourself are the home in which he dwells!”
Since he is so close to you;
desire him there,
adore him there,
and do not go off
looking for him elsewhere . . .
Christ’s own storm-buffeted disciples would have benefitted from remembering they and their Master were in the same boat on a common journey before exclaiming the headline of this week’s blog—taken from Sunday’s gospel reading (Mk 4:35-41). Let’s close it with Jesus’s response, echoing from within the depths of our 21st Century soul:
“Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”