One element on display in this recounting of the calming of the storm at sea is the humanity of Jesus. He has 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, that he not only fell asleep on the boat but was in such a deep sleep that he was as if dead, even through the height of the storm tossed the boat. 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 having trouble comprehending that he is also the Son of God. The disciples will continue to experience his miracles, but it will not be until after the resurrection and ascension, that their faith will find the maturity to participate in the fullness of the ministry Jesus was grooming them for. When the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost, they were tried and true.
Storms arise in our lives, sometimes just as unannounced and as quickly as the squall in today’s Gospel. A health issue, an injury, an economic shift, a conflict in a relationship, the effects of a mistake in judgment or a sinful choice… All can arise at a moment’s notice just as we have been experiencing with this pandemic. 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. Sooner or later though we may just want to turn to Jesus to seek his aid. A helpful point to keep in mind is one that I learned from one of our past retreat directors, Fr. RB when he offered in one of his homilies: “Sometimes the Lord calms the storm, and sometimes the Lord lets the storm rage on and calms his child.”
I have taken great comfort in those words as well as the words of Pope Francis who has said time and time again, especially during the height of the pandemic in April of 2020, that Jesus cares. No matter the severity of the storm, we can trust that Jesus does care and that he is just as present with us, as he was with his disciples in the boat. Even if we brought the storm upon ourselves, Jesus will not abandon us.
Having experienced a storm or two with Jesus then, we are better able to guide others. We can be like Mary and bear Christ to others, allowing him to be present through us for those who are in need. We can embody the words of Jesus, “Quite be still”, when we are willing to remain during another’s storms, to let another know we care with a hug of support, an active listening ear, a heart open with understanding, and our ongoing and enduring presence.
We can trust that Jesus will calm whatever tempest that rages or our minds to guide us through.