CAMINANDO WITH JESUS: Afraid? Why?
When evening had come, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
- Mark 4:35-41
When you think about the world in general and your own life in particular, are there any situations or conditions that make you fearful? What makes you most afraid? Do you have any phobias? Sometimes our fears are rooted in things that are tangible. Seeing a snake while taking a hike in the woods can be fear-provoking. Feeling your knee dislocate while playing in the waves at the beach can produce fear. Your well-planned menu for your dinner party is not coming together as you had envisioned, and the guests arrive in 15 minutes; this can create a bit of panic. And, on the other hand, the intangibles of life can be equally fear-producing. Does my spouse, my partner, still love me? Do I have the confidence and self-determination to continue on until I find another job? What will happen to me when I die?
In our appointed gospel for today, Mark 4:35-41, we are told that, after Jesus had finished teaching the crowd by the lake, using several parables as a teaching method, Jesus then invites his disciples to get into a boat and cross over to the other side. While they are all together in the boat--and be mindful that several of them are professional fisherman--a massive windstorm forms over the lake. The storm is so intense the boat begins to take on water. This sinking boat in the middle of a life-threatening storm throws the disciples into deep panic. Everyone is frightened to death, except one, and that is Jesus. Jesus is found sleeping at the back of the boat while everyone else in the boat thinks they are about to die!
Fear, panic and distress have a way of distorting our vision and preventing us from seeing clearly and completely our present circumstance. When our emotions are hyperextended by fear, it may be difficult to take a full assessment of all of our resources at hand to navigate through the challenging time. When fear becomes the dominate emotion, it is easy to be pulled onto the path of imagining all that could go wrong rather than walking with Jesus on the path of presuming and striving for all that could go right. That is what we hear in the voices of the disciples when they cry out to Jesus, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Walking with Jesus, or, in the case of today’s gospel lesson, sailing on the water with Jesus, during difficult times gives us opportunities to trust the power of God to give us life and sustain us when we can see no way to sustain ourselves.
Yes, the disciples were in the boat on the lake surrounded by a life-threatening storm. This fear-filled moment kept them from knowing The One who possessed all power over every element of the universe, including that storm, was right there with them, in the boat, in middle of the storm. When the disciples heard Jesus command the storm, “Peace! Be still!” Jesus was not speaking only to the elements of wind and water; far more, Jesus was speaking into the hearts of his disciples as he speaks into our hearts now. “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” In all of life, in moments of tranquility and especially in moments of fear, may our hearts always be open to hear Jesus when he speaks to us, “Peace! Be still!”
Tags: Caminando with Jesus