Reflection for the Fourth Sunday after Trinity and the storms of life.

“Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” Jesus, in Mark 4:35-41.

‘Now many years later, I have an idea that God would have said, “Take two”.’ Cardinal Hume, writing in ‘Basil in Blunderland’ of growing up with the idea of God as a teacher or policeman who would know and punish him for taking an apple without permission. 

Today’s Gospel centres on the calming of a storm, when Jesus commands it to cease and, to the astonishment of the disciples, it does. After an exhausting time, when Jesus has been teaching the large crowds and his disciples all day, he suggests to his followers that they should cross to the other side of the lake. Mark states that the crowds are left behind but other boats are with them despite the storm that then springs up and swamps the boat. Jesus, tired out, is fast asleep but is awoken by his panicking disciples who accuse him of not caring for their welfare – despite his nurturing of them throughout the day! Immediately, Jesus orders the wind and waves to be still – and they become not just peaceful but dead calm. His followers are astounded and marvel at his authority as he asks them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”

When Jesus asks them why they are afraid, it’s not clear whether he’s questioning their fear of the storm or its response to his command. Many of the disciples were also fishermen and would have been used to the sudden storms that can blow up there – they could perhaps have done more to help themselves and also honour Jesus’ need for rest. However, the disciples are having to learn that Jesus is much more than they realise and that in itself scares them – “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” they ask.

That same question is one that we must answer for ourselves as we, like those first disciples, respond to the presence of Jesus in our lives too. That cry of fear to Jesus – “Do you not care?” – from his frightened followers as the storm arises is echoed in so many situations today where anguished and petrified people long for God to act but he appears to be unresponsive. Often God is thought to be silent, sleeping as Jesus does in the stern where normally the person steering would be so active. Sometimes, too, there is more we could do to help ourselves or respond to what is needed. However, Jesus does take the action his disciples crave although it leaves them with so many questions about him. We may have many questions of him ourselves and our world, too.

Perhaps, like Basil Hume, we have to realise that God is so much more than the images we may have formed of him and that, as we face the storms in our own lives, we have the choice of developing faith in the loving purposes of a sometimes silent God or fear of the stormy situations being faced. Key to this is the need to ask afresh, of Jesus and ourselves, “Who is this?”

With my prayers; pob bendith,

Christine, Priest Guardian.