Our faithful blogger, Fr. Michael Schleupner, offers today’s reflection which he offered as a homily last Sunday. Let’s take a few moments to read his words that describe the setting so well, letting our mind wander into the scripture.
The Lord answers Job’s complaints.
A song of praise to God for rescue
2 Corinthians 5:14-17
Those in Christ are a new creation.
Jesus calms the storm.
The Wind and the Waves
The location of today’s gospel event is the Sea of Galilee. This is really a lake in Galilee, the northern part of Israel. It has 33 miles of shoreline, as compared to our own Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland which has 69 miles of shoreline. A significant feature about the Lake of Galilee is that it is almost 700 feet below sea level and is fairly shallow. It is flanked by mountains. So, what happens is that in the evening, the warm air off of the lake, warmed by the sun during the day, collides with cooler air coming off of the mountains. Often, the result is a sudden storm. Strong winds kick up high waves. This is the situation that the disciples and Jesus are in.
They are in a wood fishing boat, apparently a rather large rowboat. So, they are caught in one of these sudden storms with the waves splashing over the gunwales of the boat. The disciples are terrified and think that they are going to drown. Jesus – tired, and apparently a good sleeper – is asleep in the stern of the boat. “Who then is this?”
The disciples awaken Jesus for help. They have been following and listening to him. For some reason, they now think he can do something to help them. The passage says that Jesus rebukes the wind and the waves and suddenly, there is great calm. The disciples are amazed. They ask: “Who is this? Who is this that even the wind and the sea obey?”
The disciples are probably asking this with something specific in mind. They know the creation story in the Book of Genesis. That story describes the earth as chaos with a mighty wind sweeping over the waters. God then separates the sea from the land and brings order out of chaos. Only God, only divine power could do this. So, the disciples know all of this background and now see Jesus calming the wind and the waves. They must be thinking: “Only one with divine power can do something like this. So, who is this?”
Now, like those disciples, we also can get caught in storms. Our storms may be a threatening medical diagnosis, the loss of a loved one, financial trouble, feeling rejected by our peers, being bullied, being unfairly judged, and on it goes. All of us have storms, and this is the significance of the boat in today’s gospel.
This was a real boat and a real storm, but it was also symbolic. In the culture of Jesus’ day, a boat was symbolic of community, of all of us together. So, in effect, the gospel is conveying: we are all in the same boat. We are all human and we all have storms in our lives.
When we find ourselves in these storms, we too can call on Christ and his power, just like the disciples do. For us, Christ is not asleep in the boat. Instead, he is alive and awake right within us – in our inner self, in the depths of our being.
And so, we call upon him first to calm us. We ask him to steady us and give us some inner peace no matter how bad the storm gets.
And then, like the disciples, we call upon him even to calm the storm itself. All of us would want that to happen.
Then, it is important that we also call upon Jesus to awaken us. We ask him to awaken from within us patience or perseverance, courage or fortitude, wisdom or hope – these are the kind of virtues that we need in the storms of life.
So, we call on Jesus and his power to empower us. We do this because he is the Divine One, and we need to place our trust in him to make our way through the storm, no matter how it turns out.
~Fr. Michael Schleupner