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The Calming of the Storm: An Invitation to a New Level of Faith
Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church
On that day, as evening drew on, he said to them, “Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took him 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 Jesus, open my spiritual eyes to see your power and presence active in my daily life. Lift my vision to the distant horizon to which you lead me through turbulent waters.
- “…Just as he was”: The disciples took Jesus with them just as he was. According to Isaiah 53:2, “He had no majestic bearing to catch our eye…” Who would have guessed he had power to calm the squall? The apostles had yet to discover the real Jesus and the power of his mere presence. He is still “the teacher” and not yet their ultimate security. Jesus does not always “catch our eye,” but he is unfailingly present. He remains unassuming, waiting for us to fix our attention on him. He tests our faith in the power of his presence. Take a moment to fix your spiritual eyes on Jesus, present in your “boat.”
- Surprises Serve God’s Purpose: The Sea of Galilee is more like a small lake. Most of the year, clear skies grace the fishermen. However, a storm can brew with little prior notice. From the shores, the waves do not look menacing. But fear is the normal response from those caught in a violent squall in a small fishermen’s boat. The apostles were frightened for their lives, but more than being surprised by the squall, they were incredulous at Jesus’s apparent disinterest in their plight. How could Jesus remain so aloof? An opportunity was lost to them that day, a chance to grow in deeper faith and trust, which is the response of a disciple whose eyes are fixed on the always-present Savior. Like the violent squall, surprises in our life serve God’s ultimate purpose. They forge mature hearts strengthened by faith and trust in the promise and power of God, even when he acts contrary to our expectations. Lord, I make an act of trust in you.
- Quiet! Be Still!: Jesus uses these same words in Mark 1:25 to silence a demon. While he rebukes the wind and subdues the turbulent sea, perhaps he also speaks to the disciples’ agitated spirits. History, all the way back to the Garden of Eden, reveals the human inclination to distrust and fear when a tainted, prejudiced “voice” obscures our vision of the real God. In this scenario, Jesus calmed the external chaos. It served his purpose of inciting a living faith and deeper trust in his apostles. Their response was awe, and they questioned who he was, this “teacher” who could command even the winds and sea. Awe would have been the appropriate response from the very start, when they took Jesus into their boat “as he was,” the Son of God, the Lord of history, the Prince of Peace. May I still my turbulent soul in an awe-filled recognition of who you truly are–the Son of God made flesh, come to save me from slavery to sin and fear.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, help me to fix my eyes on you all day long, in calm or turbulent situations. I want to praise you for being with me in sunny or stormy moments. May gratitude for your saving presence be my constant disposition today! I believe, I trust, and I love you Lord.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will recall your presence in my life, rebuke any spirit of mistrust despite the turbulence that surrounds me, and offer an act of trust, gratitude, and praise.
For Further Reflection: Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) lyrics by Hillsong United
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi who is dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala, https://rcspirituality.org/book/mary-magdalene-insights-from-ancient-magdala/.