Lakes, rivers, bays, oceans, in fact any body of water can offer the most idyllic of views. For many people living near water seems to implant some magic spell that allows them to use that nearby body of water as a serene source, a vision of beauty, and a provider of recreation. However, that same placid body of water can present the most violent of experiences. Idyllic water can turn angry, turbulent and destructive with great damage done to people and property. Fr. James Martin, author of “Jesus: A Pilgrimage,” relates an experience he had aboard a motor-powered wooden boat on the Sea of Galilee. He had the captain shut off the motor and against the sound of water and strong wind he listened in silence to Mark’s Gospel that we heard today. He realized how terrified the disciples must have been, and a wave of pity for them swept over him. “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
2000 years ago, Jesus and his disciples went for a boat ride upon that same Sea of Galilee. It was that sea where some of them made their living, that sea where they had first encountered Jesus, and also that sea of beauty difficult to match in all creation. It was that sea that caused them panic and alarm while he lay in their boat sound asleep. Imagine sleeping in a rocking boat taking on water and battling the pounding waves of a storm. Yet that is the attitude that we are to emulate in order to weather the storms of our lives, both natural and spiritual. Unconcerned, the sleeping Jesus assumed an attitude of complete trust and faith. We too need to cultivate that level of trust and faith as we accept God’s will and God’s design for our lives.
Affirming our faith and encouraging our trust must become a daily part of our lives---no easy task. Why is it that we fail to apply the same standard of faithfulness in our spiritual lives that we expect in other areas of our lives? We expect the paper carrier to faithfully deliver our paper, and we expect our car to start each time we use it. We also expect those we hire to faithfully perform their jobs, and we definitely expect our TV to work faithfully every time we turn it on.
If we expect faithfulness and reliability in many areas of our lives, should we not also expect faithfulness and reliability in all of God’s dealings with us? Part-time faithfulness is not how God works. We, in turn, need to acquire daily and deliberate trust. Yet are we confident that Jesus cares that we humans are perishable, and that the wind is strong and the waves are breaking over our boat? Sin, suffering, and death are the storms raised up against us, and the chances of survival without divine intervention are zero. Will Jesus calm our storms with the same, “Quiet! Be still!” that he calmed the Sea of Galilee? Remember, Jesus chided his disciples with…”Do you not yet have faith?” They apparently didn’t answer, but their response was obvious: not enough to overcome the waves and stamp out their fear!
Only with a lifetime of faith experiences can we withstand the tragedies that come our way. Whenever panic and fear threatens, let us remain confident that a greater power than our fear is sleeping soundly in our boat. Then we too will be filled with great awe and declare, “I know who it is that even wind and sea obey!”
----Deacon Wilson Shierk