WHY SO MUCH FEAR?
The boat Jesus and his disciples are traveling in gets trapped by one of those unforeseen and furious storms that arise in the Lake of Galilee during the evenings on some hot days. Mark describes the episode in order to awaken the faith of his Christian communities who are going through difficult times.
The story isn’t a tranquilizing account to consol us Christian of today with the promise of a divine protection that allows the Church to pass peacefully through history. It the decisive call of Jesus to journey with him in hard times: «Why are you so frightened? Have you still no faith?».
Mark prepares the scene right from the start. He tells us that it was «at the coming of evening». Soon the darkness of night will fall over the lake. It’s Jesus who takes the initiative of that strange crossing: «Let us cross over to the other side». The expression has nothing innocent about it. He’s inviting them to pass together, in the same boat, toward another world, beyond what they’ve known, to the pagan region of the Decapolis.
All of a sudden a strong hurricane rises up, and the waves break against the fragile ship, inundating it. The scene is pathetic: in the front of the boat the disciples fighting powerless against the storm; in the stern, a place somewhat elevated, Jesus sleeping tranquilly on a cushion.
Full of fear, the disciples wake Jesus up. They haven’t caught on to the trust Jesus has in the Father. The only thing they see in him is an incredible lack of interest in what’s happening to them. He finds them full of fear and anxiety: «Master, do you not care? We are lost!».
Jesus doesn’t justify himself. He stands up and pronounces a kind of exorcism: the wind stops roaring and there follows a great calm. Jesus takes advantage of that great peace and quiet to ask them two questions that reach even to us today: «Why are you so frightened? Have you still no faith?».
What’s happening to us Christians? Why do we have so much fear to confront these crucial times and so little trust in Jesus? Isn’t it our fear of drowning that blocks us? Isn’t it the blind search for security that stops us from making a clearer, more responsible, more trusting reading of these times? Why do we resist seeing that God is leading the Church toward a future that is more faithful to Jesus and his Gospel? Why do we seek security in what’s known and established in the past, and we don’t hear Jesus’ call to «cross over to the other side» in order to humbly sow his good News in a world that’s indifferent to God, but so much in need of hope?
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf