by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
June 20, 2012
The boat in which Jesus and His disciples are traveling is caught in one of those unpredictable and furious storms that arise on the Lake of Galilee in the evening on some summer days. Mark describes the episode to stir up the faith of the Christian communities that are experiencing hard times.
The tale isn't a calming story to console today's Christians with a promise of divine protection that will allow the Church to pass quietly through history. It's Jesus' decisive call to make the crossing through difficult times with Him: "Why are you so cowardly? Do you still not have faith?"
Mark sets the scene from the beginning. He tells us that "it was evening." Soon the darkness of night will fall on the lake. Jesus takes the initiative to make that strange trip: "Let's cross to the other side." The phrase isn't innocent at all. He is inviting them to go together, in the same boat, to a different world, beyond the known one -- the pagan region of Decapolis.
Suddenly a strong hurricane arises and the waves break against the fragile vessel, flooding it with water. The scene is pathetic -- at the fore, the disciples are fighting powerlessly against the tempest; aft, in a somewhat higher place, Jesus is sleeping calmly on a cushion.
The disciples, terrified, awaken Jesus. They don't get Jesus' trust in the Father. All they see in Him is an incredible lack of interest in them. They are full of fear and extremely nervous: "Master, don't you care that we're drowning?"
Jesus doesn't justify Himself. He stands up and utters a sort of exorcism. The wind stops roaring and a great calm settles in. Jesus takes advantage of this great silence and peace to ask them two questions that come to us today: "Why are you so cowardly? Do you still not have faith?"
What is happening to us Christians? Why are we so afraid to face these crucial times and why do we have so little trust in Jesus? Isn't our fear of drowning what's blocking us? Isn't the blind search for security what's stopping us from making a lucid, responsible, and confident assessment of these times? Why do we resist seeing that God is leading the Church to a future that is more faithful to Jesus and His Gospel? Why do we seek safety in what is known and established from the past, and don't hear Jesus' call to "cross to the other shore" to humbly sow His Good News in a world that is indifferent to God but so in need of hope?