What a dramatic and real human drama is played out in the Gospel this Sunday!
The disciples are out in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. A storm on this lake can come up very quickly and be quite devastating. So the disciples are rightfully afraid. Their predicament is not unlike the ‘storms’ we face: a medical test that raises serious questions, a sudden and unexpected pink slip at work, a phone call in the middle of the night about a car crash, the loss of a loved one. These are storms that come up suddenly and can be quite devastating.
In the story we hear today from the Gospel of Mark (4:35-41), Jesus is in the boat but He is sleeping through the chaos. Sound familiar? Have you not wondered where God is in the midst of your ‘storm’? Have you thought God is abandoning you or is asleep, indifferent to your needs? These are very human emotions that well up within us in the course of living.
Well, the disciples wake Jesus up and take Him to task: “Master, do you not care that we are perishing?” How very real and direct! Jesus calms the storm: “Quiet. Be still!” And the sea returns to its tranquility. But Jesus then challenges the disciples: “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” Good question and worthy of our reflection. He says: “Do you not yet have faith?” Notice the word: yet. They have been with Jesus for some time. They have witnessed His healings and works of wonder. They have heard Him speak words of wisdom and hope. And still, a storm comes and they are terrified.
Surely you can identify with them. You have faith. You profess the name of Jesus Christ as your Savior and your God. But what happens when the unexpected and the unwelcomed interrupts your life? You become terrified and this is very human and understandable. And this is precisely when you need to exercise your faith. I am not talking about how you feel. I am talking about faith: trusting that Jesus is with you even though you feel alone. Faith here is a leap in the dark. It is not a scientific experiment that can be quantified. It is not God proving Himself by a miracle. Faith is walking with God within the mystery of suffering and fear.
Are you in the midst of a storm in your life? Please do not push God away by blaming Him. He didn’t do it. Please do not accuse Jesus of not caring. He cares. Please exercise your faith. As we will see in next Sunday’s Gospel, fear is useless. What is needed is trust.
May the Lord give you peace.
Rev. James M. McNamara