“Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mk 4:40)

by Shiu Lan
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

JOB 38:1, 8-11


MARK 4:35-41

It began as an ordinary day during Jesus’ public ministry. He was teaching by the lake. He sat on a boat and preached and the crowd stood along the shore. When evening came, Jesus and his disciples crossed by boat to the other side. During the crossing, a big storm arose, the waves were so high that the boat was swamped. Jesus was asleep in the stern.

The disciples were fearful that they would perish, so they sought help from Jesus who “woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm” (Mk 4:39). Seeing this, the disciples were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mk 4:41).

Why are the disciples in awe when Jesus calms the wind and the sea? After all, they have witnessed him performing miracles, curing the sick and driving out demons. This is because Jesus’ authority over nature is a manifestation of his divinity to his disciples who have been taught by Scriptures that only God has the power to calm a raging sea. (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament P 73).

In this Sunday’s first reading, we hear from God’s discourse to Job who struggles to understand the tragedy that befalls him out of the blue, that God is the One who has power over nature. God said, “I will question you, and you tell me the answers!” (Job 38:3). He asked Job, among other things, “Who shut in the sea with doors” and who said, “[H]ere shall your proud waves be stopped?” (Job 38: 8,11). Job answered, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be hindered” (Job 42:2). In this Sunday’s Responsorial Psalm, the Psalmist give thanks to the Lord who “brought them out of their distress; he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed” (Ps 107: 28-29).

The episode of the calming of the sea also signifies the struggles of Christian life. While the world is plagued by the pandemic and everyone is living in unpredictable and difficult times, it adds to the helplessness when we hear about Christians being persecuted in many places. It is hard to imagine that while technology has advanced in leaps and bounds, people are living better lives, yet religious freedom is still not a right for many in this modern day and age. Even for us who are blessed to live in religious freedom, our lives can be full of dangerous storms, attacks from evil forces and temptations of the flesh. These spiritual assaults may awake so that we may become aware of our own helplessness. We are afraid, we may lose our way and fall. To reinforce our faith and to overcome our weaknesses, we must learn to trust in Christ daily, since He alone can restrain these forces and bring us to the safe haven of salvation (Ref. Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament P73).

To this end, St. Paul reminds us in the second reading that we the faithful should “live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them” (2 Corinthians 5:15). In a new life of grace, our lives are “swept up by Christ into the heart of divine life”, “to serve in the communion of the Church … to receive the Sacraments, to be nourished with the Word of God and to be sustained by the other spiritual helps of the Church” (CCC 655, 1269).

By practicing the teachings of the Church, may we be enabled to overcome the tendency to live for ourselves but for Jesus our Redeemer.