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. 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 with, accompanies, and does not abandon us. 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 during my recovery process of pneumonia a year later.
The experience of this closeness of Jesus is to be shared. We are also to be there for others during their storms. We are to be a presence 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 and allow God to happen.
Photo: Storm clouds gathering as I leave Mass one night. 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