On display in Mark’s recounting of the calming of the storm at sea is the humanity of Jesus. He had finally succumbed to the exhaustion from being pulled and touched, challenged and accused, the constant interaction through his service of teaching, healing, forgiving, and exorcising, such that he not only fell asleep on the boat but was in such a deep state that he was as if dead, even during the height of the storm. Also, we see his divinity expressed when his disciples wake him and he calmed the storm immediately with just his word: “Quiet! Be Still” (Mk 4:39)!
The disciples have grasped his uniqueness and have accepted him as their rabbi, their teacher, but they are still grappling with the reality that Jesus is at the same time the Son of God. The disciples will continue to experience his miracles, but it will not be until after his resurrection and ascension, that their faith will find the maturity to participate in the fullness of the ministry Jesus was grooming them for.
Storms arise in our lives, sometimes just as unannounced and as quickly as the squall from today’s Gospel. A health issue, an injury, an economic shift, a conflict, the effects of a mistake in judgment, or a sinful choice, all can arise at a moment’s notice. Covid has certainly been wreaking havoc since last March. We, like the disciples, can sometimes only hold on so as not to be tossed into the sea, or bail out water so we don’t sink. But sooner or later, we need to turn to Jesus to seek his aid. A helpful point to keep in mind that I have learned from one of our past retreat directors, Fr. RB, is: “Sometimes the Lord calms the storm, and sometimes the Lord lets the storm rage on and calms his child.”
To understand this statement is to begin to mature in our faith. No matter the severity of the storm, we are to trust in Jesus. He remains present with us, accompanies us, and does not leave us alone. Whether we brought the storms upon ourselves or they arose from another source, Jesus does not leave us to fend for ourselves. When we remember to call on his name, he will either calm the storm or bring us a sense of peace as we travel through it empowered by the assurance that he will give us that which we need to ride it out to the other side. I have felt his closeness and presence dealing with the sickness and death of JoAnn, as well as now with my own healing process with Covid and pneumonia.
Jesus is indeed presence with us, but also we need to be willing to allow him to work through us such that his presence will be there for others in their storms. We are to be that conduit of calm assurance for those who need Jesus but do not know him or are focusing on the anxiety and fear of the storm instead of him. We do this best when we are willing to enter the chaos of another, choose to be present and accompany them in their trials and allow God to happen. Through our open hearts and minds, the peace and presence of Christ will be with us and may we too make him present to others.
Photo: After evening Mass a few months ago. Jesus is our peace through any storm!
Fr RB Williams home page and link to his homily – http://www.rbwords.com/wttw/date/2018-01-27