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 mankind 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
With the coming of evening that same day, Jesus said to his disciples, 'Let us cross over to the other side.' And leaving the crowd behind they took him, just as he was, in the boat; and there were other boats with him. Then it began to blow a great gale and the waves were breaking into the boat so that it was almost swamped. But he was in the stern, his head on the cushion, asleep. They woke him and said to him, 'Master, do you not care? We are lost!' And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, 'Quiet now! Be calm!' And the wind dropped, and there followed a great calm. Then he said to them, 'Why are you so frightened? Have you still no faith?' They were overcome with awe and said to one another, 'Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.'
• The Gospel today describes the storm in 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 to the port. Jesus seems to be sleeping in our boat, since no divine power seems to appear to save us from the difficulties and the 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 the 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 favour of the disciples, in favour of the people and, above all, in favour of the excluded and marginalized. Jesus overcomes, dominates the sea, a symbol of chaos (Mk 4, 35-41). ¡A creating 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 be fear (Mk 5, 21-43). This is the reason for this passage of the storm calmed by Jesus on which we are meditating today in the 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 was, the boat from which he had made the discourse of the Parables. Because he was extremely tired, he went to sleep on the stern, his head on the cushion! This is the first picture or image which Mark presents. A beautiful painting, but very human!
• 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. A very strong wind, the agitated sea, the boat full of water! 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!
• 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 cry of the disciples. First, he addresses himself to the sea and says: “Quiet now!” And the wind dropped and there followed 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 was no danger. It is like when you go to a house and the dog, at the side of his master, 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 no faith?” The disciples did 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 the fact of having been with him for such a long time, they do not know well who he is. Who can this be? With this question in mid, the communities follow the reading of the Gospel. Y even today, this is the same question which leads us to continue reading the Gospel. It is the desire to know always better the significance of Jesus for 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 end, 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, 188.8.131.52); Bridegroom (Mk 2, 19); Son of God (Mk 3, 11); Son of the Highest God (Mk 5, 7); Carpenter (Mc 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 (Mc 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 persons. But a name, no matter how beautiful it is, never reveals the mystery of a person, much less of the person of Jesus. Besides this, some of these names given to Jesus, including the more important ones and the more traditional, are questioned, doubted by Mark the Evangelist. 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, 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 anyone of these names, in no schema, in no title. He is the greatest! Little by little, the reader gives up and ceases to want to frame up Jesus in a known concept or in an idea made up beforehand, and accepts him as he is presented. Love seduces, but not the head, NO!
4) Personal questions
• The waters of the sea of life, have they threatened you sometimes? Who saved you?
• Which was the agitated sea at the time of Jesus? Which was the agitated sea at the time when Mark wrote his Gospel? Which is, today, the agitated sea for us?
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)