Today’s reading is Mark 4:35-41:
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
“Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”
These are challenging words that Jesus directs to His disciples in the midst of their natural and understandable fear that they would perish when a violent storm comes upon their boat while at sea. Great teacher that He is, Jesus uses the opportunity to show forth the power of His saving presence and divinity while calling these disciples to deeper faith and trust in God. In calming the storm at sea Jesus gives these men another reason to believe in Him as the long awaited Messiah, as they sit dumbfounded with such awe and wonder that all they can say to one another is, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” This is what the power of faith can do: to believe the unbelievable, to transform darkness into light, to change sin to grace, for fear to be converted into faith. Through a simple rebuke in this Gospel episode Jesus takes human terror and doubt and turns it to divine peacefulness and calm.
What are the storms in your life? What are you fearful of?
Whatever it may be, Jesus’ calming of the storm at sea gives the Christian disciple the unique hope that God will never abandon you, no matter how much a storm might batter the boat of your life. Jesus gives a clear teaching in this Gospel that the medicine that heals fear is living faith. In his first encyclical letter titled Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith) Pope Francis wrote quite beautifully that, “In God’s gift of faith, a supernatural infused virtue, we realize that a great love has been offered us, a good word has been spoken to us, and that when we welcome that word, Jesus Christ the Word made flesh, the Holy Spirit transforms us, lights up our way to the future and enables us joyfully to advance along that way on wings of hope. Thus wonderfully interwoven, faith, hope and charity are the driving force of the Christian life as it advances towards full communion with God.” Faith, hope and charity are indeed the driving force that enables the Christian disciples to receive the calm that only God can give, not matter what storms may come. “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” May Jesus illumine our hearts with the light of faith and the peace of His calming presence.
Fr. Mark Murphy is the Undergraduate Chaplain of the Harvard Catholic Center.