THE SECRET OF SURVIVAL IS NOT BIGGER BOAT BUT DEEPER FAITH
(A biblical reflection on THE TWELFTH ORDINARY SUNDAY [YEAR B] – 20 June 2021)
Gospel Reading: Mark 4:35-41
First Reading: Job 38:1,8-11; Psalms: Psalm 107:23-26,28-31; Second Reading: 2Corinthians 5:14-17
The Scripture Text
On that day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took Him with them, just as He was, in the boat. And other boats were with Him. And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care if we perish?” And He awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith? And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey Him?” (Mark 4:35-41 RSV)
Every now and then we witness a mighty upheaval of the forces of nature causing tremendous destruction of lives and property. Although we have learned to harness some of the forces of nature in a very limited way with modern science and technology, it seems that there will always be some forces beyond our control and subject only to the control of God the Almighty Himself. In this case, faith is what we need!
Today’s Gospel finds Jesus and His seaworthy apostles caught in the raging waters of this normally calm lake (Sea of Galilee). At their emotional request, Jesus subdues wind and sea in dramatic fashion, but one wonders why they set sail in such adverse conditions. The Lord surely knew the danger in store and the apostles, being keen fishermen, must have had some indication of a brewing storm. Mark gives the reason for their launching in the first sentence of the reading: Jesus said to His disciples, “Let us go across to the other side” (Mark 4:35).
Let us remember that our Lord had only three years to proclaim His teaching, accomplish His healing and found the Church. He could not afford to sit in safe havens waiting for fair weather. His work this present day with a particular crowd was finished, and it was time to move to another, on the distant shore. He knew the gathering storm would not sink the boat, so He ordered the departure. He was also providing an opportunity for the apostles to solidify their faith in His decisions.
Jesus showed His trust in their ability to handle the boat by taking the helmsman’s cushion and going to sleep. It appears the voyage was in opposition to the better judgment of the apostles, yet it must have hurt their pride to admit their inability to sustain faith in a safe arrival. “Teacher, do You not care if we perish?” they shouted, awakening Him. He calmed the wind and sea and turned to the frightened crew asking, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith? Very likely He went back to sleep, leaving the naval experts filled with awe mumbling: “We should have trusted Him.”
For every disciple or follower of Jesus there will be many occasions to launch out over troubled waters for some distant shore, at His invitation. If we always wait for perfect conditions, we’ll accomplish little. A fair-weather Christian will dally, while one with a burning desire to accomplish a mission will risk all in faith. The pilgrim must expect storms of ridicule, severe criticism, even threatened violence, yet he goes forth. The secret of survival is not a bigger boat but deeper faith.
If the cause is good and faith is strong, the storm will not sink you for the Lord will be aboard and the farthest shore will be reached. When the Master is silent (or “sleeping”) it’s a sign. He has deep trust in you and I. Give Him our complete faith and sail on. Bon Voyage!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, keep me ever conscious of the gift of faith You’ve endowed me with. Help me to grow in that faith so as to be able to deal peaceably with the trials I am likely to face today. Open my eyes to Your presence and speak peace to my soul. We pray this in the most precious name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Jakarta, 19 June 2021
A Christian Pilgrim