June 25, 2006 - Year B - Pentecost 3
• 35 On that same day when evening had come, Jesus said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” 36 So they left the crowd and took him away in the boat he had been sitting in, and other boats set out with him. 37 Then a storm gathered and it began to blow a gale. The waves spilled over into the boat so that it was soon filled with water. 38 And Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cushion.
They woke him up and said, “Master, don’t you care if we sink?” 39 As Jesus awoke, he rebuked the wind and ordered the sea, “Quiet now! Be still!” The wind dropped and there was a great calm. 40 Then Jesus said to them, “Why are you so frightened? Do you still have no faith?”
41 But they were terrified and they said to one another, “Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him!”
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• 35. In the last two parables Jesus has shown the irresistible growth of the Kingdom, and to give a visible sign of it, he will pass to the other shore of the lake, that is to say, on the pagan side of Lake Galilee. The two miracles he is about to perform will show that his victory over the demon goes beyond the frontiers of Israel.
In Jewish mentality the sea is a daily reminder of primitive chaos, it is there the marine monsters move around, monsters which only God, for he is the all-powerful, can challenge: Leviathan and Rahab. In commanding the sea: Quiet now! Be still! Just as he does with the demons (Mk 1:25) Jesus affirms his divine power over the forces of evil.
Confronted with all the forms of evil that attack them, in the midst of tempests that arise, people, at times, wonder if God “does not sleep.” Jesus is there. He is not surprised by the disciples’ fear of the tempest, but of their lack of faith; only trust in the victory of Jesus, Son of God, over the forces of evil, will allow them to overcome this fear.
At the very instant when they discover this divine power in Jesus, the apostles are terrified, as was Moses at the burning bush (Ex 3:1), and Isaiah at the time of his vision in the Temple (Is 6:5), as all those to whom God shows himself in a special way: more than a friend, more than a master, Jesus revealed himself to them in the truth of his being. This fear in discovering God so close to them was greater than the fear they had felt during the tempest a few moments earlier.
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1. We have seen parables as a teaching tool. The presence of G*D comes slowly, inexorably. Here we are not dealing with teaching as a first response but one of those temptations to demonstrate power. Here the presence of G*D is present with immediacy, with a word. Which is more truly true? Obviously it does not take a political election to decide this matter, to declare a winner. G*D's presence is G*D's presence. Good old, I AM who I AM strikes again. Shazam! I am!
2. Even this dramatic end to a stormy situation doesn't resolve all matters. Because a momentary storm has come to a conclusion there is a need to deal with its echoes that reverberate within one and can start an habitual response to any out-of-the-ordinary circumstance. What to do with fear that has arisen? How to deal with it so it won't crop up so quickly the next time around? What has worked for you?
3. There is another line, "perfect love casts out fear." Here the question is about faith casting out fear. What would happen your behavior if every time you find yourself falling back on "faith" language that you would translate it as "love" language? Our supposition is that we would be able to better deal with every storm that came along. Is your love/faith strong enough to interpose yourself between someone in trouble and their trouble?
This takes us to the first Baptismal question: Will you oppose evil? We are quick to answer, "Yes." But, truth be told, both are love and our faith gets fearful and we don't. Then the storm builds and we can but call out for help. Therefore the second Baptismal question: Will you allow G*D to help you oppose evil?
Here, know it or not, the disciples simply engage the second Baptismal question and call out for help. They really don't need to deflect the question or deny their reality. They only need to recognize their intention alone was not sufficient and they engaged their loving faith to admit they were powerless.
Here the disciples missed their opportunity to step into a new path. And you?
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