Peace, be still

Mark 4:39

We miss the point of today’s Gospel if we see it only as an occasion when Jesus demonstrated his power over the forces of nature.

The story takes it for granted that the sea is the abode of evil forces. It was commonly accepted that the powers of evil dwelt in the sea, in the ancient world the sea symbolised evil and chaos. This incident speaks of Jesus’ ability to subdue the forces of evil and to withstand attacks from the evil one. Throughout his Gospel Mark reports clashes between Jesus and the evil forces in various manifestations.

We have to see today’s Gospel as a contest between the forces of good and evil, light and darkness, right and wrong. The storm represents the forces that are opposed to the Kingdom of God and the message of the Church. The storm symbolises the false gods that are in opposition to Yahweh.. The story reminds us of the personal storms we will have in our lives.

Some of the present day storms that oppose the message of God’s kingdom are secularism, the new morality, materialism, corrupt political systems and policies, consumerism and many other social evils that run counter to the teaching of Jesus Christ.

When last did you encounter a storm in your life?

What are our personal storms? Our personal storms take many forms and affect us differently. I am sure all of us can name the storms that beat against us. No one is exempted from storms and no should go through life with the belief that storms will not come. Storms are always on the horizon. The various storms we meet in our daily lives serve to remind us of evil’s presence in the world and the need to be watchful. Our personal storms indicate how sin and wrong doing affect humanity. The storms we have to battle with are not only physical occurrences but also spiritual. The writer of Ephesians makes the point: “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Storms are destructive. Storms create fear and an environment of uncertainty. In the face of tempests there is a feeling of impotence as it seems we have no control over the situations that arise. The disciples experienced fear and Jesus asked the question “Why are you so afraid.” Fear causes us to doubt and question God’s providence. Listen to the disciples query: “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?" The best of us have these moments when in our turmoil and weakness we ask “God are you present.” So often when we meet storms we ask the question “why?”

But not all storms are bad. But let me hasten to make this point, a storm need not become a crisis. A storm can just be a storm or it can become a crisis. Some storms provide opportunities for us to grow mentally and spiritually. So all the storms we meet are not necessarily bad. Storms provide opportunities for us to reshape and refashion our lives. It might be true to say that some storms serve useful purposes. It all depends how you look at it.

Can we over come the demonic forces we meet? Yes, but not in our own strength. The Gospel speaks of victory over evil. In whatever form or fashion it comes we have the ability to defeat evil but we must be patient. Whenever we are faced with storms we must exercise patience.

The words ‘peace be still’ are reminders that evil will not triumph over good, that life is stronger than death and that light outshines darkness.  The storm is really a contest between the power of evil and the power of God. It is show of strength.

What do we learn from today’s Gospel that can be applied to our lives? The Gospel teaches that God’s presence bring peace. In the person of Jesus storms give way to peace. Whenever we are in a storm we must listen to the words of Christ “peace be still.”

Secondly the Gospel teaches that the storms cannot defeat us. The forces of evil shall not prevail. In all the storms we meet we must never lose sight of the fact that Jesus is sailing in the boat with us. We must accept the reality of the demonic forces that cause storms, we have to face the forces of evil, but we must always be conscious of the fact the boat will not sink. The boat will not sink, it might go adrift, but it will not sink. Even if the boat sinks Jesus will be with us in the boat, but the boat will not sink.

The Gospel instils hope. It calls us to trust God who will use his power for good and not evil. A God whose power we recognise in his ability to tame the destructive forces.

There will be storms but the boat will not sink. The boat will not sink. We do not face the storms alone. Remember, the boat will not sink.

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