Saturday, January 27, 2018
1) Opening prayer
All-powerful and ever-living God,
direct Your love that is within us,
that our efforts in the name of Your Son
may bring the human race to unity and peace.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel reading - 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?"
• The Gospel describes the storm on the lake and Jesus who sleeps in the boat. Sometimes our communities feel like a small boat lost in the sea of life, without much hope of arriving at the port. Jesus seems to be sleeping in our boat, since no divine power seems to appear to save us from difficulties and persecution. In view of this desperate situation, Mark puts together several episodes which reveal how Jesus is present in the midst of the community. In these parables, the mystery of the Kingdom is revealed, which is present in the things of daily life (Mk 4:1-34). Now He begins to reveal the mystery of the Kingdom present in the power which Jesus exercises in favor of the disciples, in favor of the people, and above all, in favor of the excluded and marginalized. Jesus overcomes, dominates the sea, a symbol of chaos (Mk 4:35-41) and something man cannot control by himself. A creative power acts in Him! Jesus conquers and drives out the devil (Mk 5:1-20). The power of life acts in Him! He is the victorious Jesus! There is no reason for the communities to have fear (Mk 5:21-43). This is the reason for this passage about the storm being calmed by Jesus, which we are meditating on in today’s Gospel.
• Mark 4:35-36: The starting point: “Let us cross over to the other side”. It had been a heavy day with much work. Once the discourse on the parables was finished (Mk 4: 1-34), Jesus said, “Let us cross over to the other side!” They take Him on the boat just as He is in the boat in which He had made the discourse on the parables. Because He was extremely tired, He went to sleep in the stern with His head on a cushion. This is the first picture or image which Mark presents: a beautiful painting, but very human!
Jesus asks us to “cross to the other side” too. He asks us to separate from the crowd who is preoccupied with consumerism and gossip and earthly desires.
• Mark 4: 37-38: The desperate situation: “Do You not care? We are lost!” The Lake of Galilee is surrounded by mountains. Sometimes, through the cracks in the rocks, the wind blows on top of the lake and provokes sudden storms. The disciples were experienced fishermen. If they think that they are going to sink, then the situation is really dangerous. Jesus does not even wake up. He continues to sleep. This profound sleep is not only a sign of great fatigue, it is also the expression of a calm peaceful trust which He has in God. The contrast between the attitude of Jesus and that of the disciples is very great!
Today, mankind has a belief that it has mastered everything, and when things go wrong, people blame God for not caring. Faith provides the calm peaceful trust Jesus had rather than the anxiety that the disciples had.
• Mark 4: 39-40: The reaction of Jesus: “Have you still no faith?” Jesus wakes up, not because of the waves, but because of the desperate cries of the disciples. First, He addresses Himself to the sea and says, “Quiet now!” And the wind dropped and there followed a great calm. Then He spoke to the disciples and said, “Why are you so frightened? Have you still no faith?” The impression that one has is that it is not necessary to calm down the sea, since there is no danger. It is like going to a house and seeing the dog at the side of his master, who begins to bark. One should not be afraid because the dog is with the master who controls the situation. The episode of the storm which was calmed recalls Exodus, when the people, without fear, passed through the water of the sea (Ex 14: 22). It recalls the Prophet Isaiah who told the people, “If you go across the water I will be with you!” (Is 43: 2) Jesus does the exodus again and carries out the prophecy announced by Psalm 107(106):25-30.
• Mark 4: 41: The disciples did not know. “Who can this be?” Jesus calms the sea and says, “Have you still have no faith?” The disciples do not know what to respond and they ask themselves, “Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey Him”. Jesus appears as a stranger to them! In spite of having been with Him for such a long time, they do not really know who He is. “Who can this be?” With this question in mind, the communities follow the reading of the Gospel. Even today, the same question leads us to continue reading the Gospel. It is the desire to better know the significance of Jesus in our life.
Knowing and trusting Jesus more moves us from being like the disciples at this point. Greater faith brings greater peace in the presence of storms in our life..
• Who is Jesus? Mark begins his Gospel saying, “The beginning of the Gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk 1:1). At the moment of His death, the soldier declared, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mk 15:39). At the beginning and at the end of the Gospel, Jesus is called the Son of God. Between the beginning and the end, there are many other names of Jesus which appear. The following is the list: Messiah or Christ (Mk 1:1; 8:29; 14:61; 15:32); Lord (Mk 1:3; 5:19; 11:3); Beloved Son (Mk 1:11; 9:7); the Holy One of God (Mk 1:24); Nazarene (Mk 1:24; 10:47; 14:67; 16:6); Son of Man (Mk 2:10,28; 8:31,38; 9:9,12,31; 10:33,45; 13:26; 14:21,41,62); bridegroom (Mk2: 19); Son of God (Mk 3:11); Son of the Highest God (Mk 5:7); carpenter (Mk 6:3); Son of Mary (Mk 6:3); Prophet (Mk 6:4,15; 8:28); Teacher (frequent); Son of David (Mk 10:47-48; 12:35-37); Blessed (Mk 11:9); Son (Mk 13:32); Shepherd (Mk 14:27); Son of the Blessed One (Mk 14:61); King of the Jews (Mk 15:2,9,18,26); King of Israel (Mk 15:32),
Each name, title, or attribute is an attempt to express what Jesus signifies for people. But a name, no matter how beautiful it is, never reveals the mystery of a person, much less the person of Jesus. Some of these names given to Jesus, including the more important ones and the more traditional, are questioned by Mark the Evangelist as being satisfactory. Thus, as we advance in the reading of the Gospel, Mark obliges us to revise our ideas and to ask ourselves, once again, “In last instance, who is Jesus for me and for us?” The more we advance in the reading of the Gospel of Mark, the more these titles and criteria fall. Jesus does not fit into any one of these names, or schema, or titles. He is the greatest! Little by little, the reader gives up and ceases to want to frame Jesus in a known concept or in an idea made up beforehand, and accepts Him as He is presented.
4) Personal questions
• Have the waters of the sea of life threatened you sometimes? Who saved you?
• What was the agitated sea (of the community) at the time of Jesus? What was the agitated sea (for the community) at the time when Mark wrote his Gospel? What is the agitated sea for us today?
5) Concluding prayer
God, create in me a clean heart,
renew within me a resolute spirit,
do not thrust me away from Your presence,
do not take away from me Your spirit of holiness. (Ps 51:10-11)