This Sunday’s gospel comes at the end of a day when Jesus had been teaching at the edge of the lake, the ‘boundary’ between land and see where he had called his first disciples. It is a very human image of Jesus who, after giving himself to the crowd teaching them, tells his disciples to cross to the other side of the lake. We need to picture this in our minds, going from the Jewish side of the See of Galilee to the other side predominantly Gentile territory. But before we cross that ‘boundary’ let us reflect on the work of Jesus ‘this’ side of the lake, his home country. It was very hard work talking to large crowd without amplifiers, microphones and speakers, comforting the oppressed, healing the sick, while dealing with the growing hostility. It all must have taken a heavy toll on Jesus. So now get into today’s Gospel scene with Jesus sound asleep in the front of the boat, dead to the world. Can you remember times when you just felt dead asleep and completely disconnected form your surrounding? I did… and too many times to tell you.
The disciples took Jesus in the boat, “just as he was”. Other boats are also mentioned almost in passing, to show Jesus’ gathering of followers, but no more attention is given to them in Mark’s narrative. This is the first of six crossings that Mark describes, which are much more than geographical excursions. One way we can explain the scene in today’s Gospel is that Jesus, in his absolute humanity, is just dead tired, exhausted. While he is resting, the fishing boat is caught in a sudden storm so violent that the experienced fishermen on board, the apostles, are panicking. And what is the Savior of the world doing? Nothing! Jesus is sound asleep in the front of the world, dead to his surroundings. The effect on his followers is very interesting. Here they are, fighting for their lives, and Jesus seems completely out of it.
Can you remember times in your live when you were in the midst of the fiercest storms and God seemed completely absent? … like Jesus to the apostles? When they wake him up, they sound frustrated and complain “Do you not care that we are perishing?” Now, honestly, what did they expect? Their teacher is not a sailor, they are. But once he is awake he stops the winds, stills the storm and calms the waves, to the surprise of his disciples. But there was more to come. Now it is Jesus’ turn to complain. Why did you wake me up? What is your problem? Why are you terrified? Do you really think anything could happen to you while I am with you? The apostles were amazed when Jesus quieted the storms. They asked, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” For the first time they began to wonder if maybe God himself was among them in some way. For Jesus in that moment looked and sounded very much like the way God does in the First Reading from the Book of Job: “and here shall your.. waters be stilled!”.
This story reminds me of times, we all go through in our lives, when the going (“the seas”) gets really rough, the waves seem too much and we feel in danger of drowning. Often at these times God seems asleep, deaf to our cries. But like in today’s story, He is never out of touch. He probably wants to ask us, “Why are you terrified?’” Knowing the history as we know it, he may even be asking, “After all I’ve done, do you think I could ever abandon you?” I keep reminding myself that even in times when I felt alone and overwhelmed, I am actually not alone. He is with us and the storm will pass.
The complete text of the readings can be found at
With God’s Love and Blessings,
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