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Calming Storms with Jesus

  • January 30, 2021 (readings)
  • Saturday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time
  • Marybeth Harper
  • Mark 4:35-41

    On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples: “Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” 

    Opening Prayer: Lord, as I reflect on these words of yours, help me to put my preoccupations aside and place myself in the boat with you.

    Encountering Christ:

    1. Jesus Always Initiates: It’s striking that Jesus, who is omniscient, urged the disciples to get into the boat to “cross over to the other side,” knowing that a storm was coming. Jesus seeks us out, knocks at the door of our heart, and sometimes invites us into “bad weather” because he loves us and wants to give us every spiritual gift. By calming the storm, Jesus revealed to his disciples his power and might. As a result, they “were filled with great awe,” which is a precursor to the spiritual gift called “fear of the Lord.” Our Lord was awakening in them virtues like obedience, docility, and reverence, which are foundational for even greater gifts, according to St. Gregory the Great: “Through the fear of the Lord, we rise to piety, from piety then to knowledge, from knowledge we derive strength, from strength counsel, with counsel we move toward understanding, and with intelligence toward wisdom and thus, by the sevenfold grace of the Spirit, there opens to us at the end of the ascent the entrance to the life of heaven” (“Homiliae in Hiezechihelem Prophetam,” II 7,7). 

    2. Jesus Always Accompanies: Jesus knew the storm was coming and he encouraged the boat’s crossing, but he didn’t intend for the Apostles to go into the storm alone. At their invitation, Jesus got into the boat. He accompanied them. How often do we sense an approaching storm, but fail to go to Jesus with our problem? Even though Jesus knows what’s ahead in our life, he won’t force us to rely on him. He waits to be invited. And when we reflect on his power, his willingness to accompany us, and his infinite love for each of us, why do we ever hesitate to meet him in our prayer and the sacraments? 

    3. Jesus Always Brings Peace: “The wind ceased and there was great calm.” When we invite Jesus into our life, he brings peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27). Although temporal sufferings may continue, we sense that we rest in Jesus’s pierced palm and feel safe. Everything seems more manageable by God’s grace. “So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

    Conversing with Christ: Lord, there have been many storms in my life. Some I lived without your presence. By your grace, I now know to invite you into my problems so that you can inspire me, send me wisdom, and bring me peace. I am always in awe of your power and presence in my life.

    Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will intentionally seek your peace when I feel stressed or worried. 

    For Further Reflection: Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed; I am your God. I will strengthen you, and help you (Isaiah 41:10).


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