23rd June 2024

Lectionary Readings: Job 38:1, 8-11; Ps 107:23-26, 28-31; 2 Cor 5:14-17; Mark 4:35-41

Theme: “Be Quiet and trust in the midst of a rainstorm”

The Gospel of today speaks of a very well-known event in the life of Jesus and his disciples: the stilling of the storm on the Sea of Galilee – even ‘Wind and Waves Obey Jesus’. The emphasis in the exegesis of the story is usually at the end when all is well again: the storm calmed by Jesus. They feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” (4: 41).  We as onlookers, familiar with the text, are usually not very moved since we know all along Jesus was there, along with his disciples in the boat, so of course, nothing bad could happen and because Jesus shows his authority and demonstrates his power over nature by calming a storm on the sea.

On a figurative level, isn’t this a situation we all know too well? We find ourselves or people who are dear to us, caught up in the storms of life, asking for help, asking “where is our God”? Where is Jesus in this raging madness around us? Why is he so “laid back”? Why does he have to be woken up, can’t he see for himself that his people perish, doesn’t he care? Maybe in the present time we can ask these kinds of questions. Why is there war where people suffer and die? Why is one country trying to invade another country and thus not following the international law? Many authors of Biblical texts have asked these questions and it is not by coincidence that today’s lectionary also proposes a reading from the book of Job. It is the passage where God finally answers Job out of a storm. But the “answer” is rather a statement. There is no explanation whatsoever as to why Job had to live through all his fear, agony, pain, and loss. God simply points out that he is the Creator of everything and in control; and as for “understanding” God’s ways, we only get a glimpse, if at all! Walking with God never means to be kept from stormy weather in a life without distress. It certainly does not mean that believers have all the answers to life’s questions even in the present when we have a lot of issues between the international community or even local issues, global warming, even our personal issues between our faith and other belief’s.

Let us take a step back and look more closely at the story. Jesus is crossing the Sea of Galilee “to the other side” leaving, with his disciples, the well-known territory of the mainly Jewish populated section of the Galilee for the area predominantly populated by Gentiles (cf. The Jewish Annotated New Testament, p.68-69). Thus, Jesus and his disciples are traveling to a new and unknown area both in the literal and figurative sense. The opening of Jesus’ mission is just about to unfold: he is not only sent to minister to the house of Israel but also to the Gentiles, the non-Jews on the other side of the lake. Jesus embodies the Jewish calling to bring the Torah, in its living form to the Nations.

The disciples, experienced fishermen and acquainted with the lake, are awake during the journey. But despite their experience, they are at a complete loss when the storm begins to rage. Jesus on the other hand is fast asleep and seems very comfortable. Mark tells us even the minute detail that he has a “cushion” (4:38). Jesus is asleep just like Jonah in the fish (also sent to preach to the Gentiles). Unlike Jonah, Jesus has authority over the storm (cf. The Jewish Annotated New Testament, p. 68).  The passage is also meant to test the faith of his disciples and to encourage them to pray. However, Job and today’s Gospel reading can be an encouragement: never stop “bothering” God, even when life does not make any sense and sounds unfair. Trust in him even against all odds, believing that in the end, whenever that may be, all will be well. This story is a reminder that the Lord Jesus is the Son of God and that God has control over the weather.

For Reflection and Discussion: 1. How’s my behavior in the midst of rainstorm of life? 2. Do I still trust
and believe in God in spite of the International community issues?

Bibliography: McKenzie, J.L. Dictionary of the Bible (New York: 1965) http://gcatholic.org/CatholicStudy

This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Dunhill Malunar Timkang, Israel-Jerusalem, Bat Kol Alumna/Alumnus:2023

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