Peace! Be Still!

When evening had come, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”  Mark 4:35-41.

In the Gospel reading from today’s Lectionary, we find Jesus and the disciples after a long day of teaching and healing.  In fact, the crowds had swelled to such a point that Jesus had preached from the boat as the crowd listened on land.  Jesus devoted much of his teaching that day to explaining about the Kingdom of God.  I think we might interpret today’s Gospel in that context, although Jesus will now show the disciples what the Kingdom is like.

When a violent storm arises and threatens to swamp their boat, the disciples feel a genuine terror.  I have often asked the exact question that they raise:  “Do you not care that we are perishing?”  I have often asked God almost exactly the same question:  “Can you not see what’s going on down here?”  We wonder where God is while we struggle through our troubles, our danger, and our fears.  And yet, the disciples found that their rabbi was with them all along, sleeping in the stern of the boat.  So, this story suggests that while we are panicking in chaos and certain that we are perishing, Jesus remains right there with us, in the middle of the storm.

Mark tells us that Jesus rebuked the storm, telling the maelstrom:  “Peace!  Be still!” We all wish that we could give such instructions when chaos arrives.  What would happen if we could rebuke cancer, or automobile crashes, or church fights, telling them:  “Be still!”  Even the wind and the sea obeyed Jesus, but I suspect that’s mostly because Jesus had such a profound trust of the Father.

Earlier, I suggested that this Gospel passage, like those that immediately precede it, is about the Kingdom of God.  Jesus can sleep through the storm because He knows that God reigns over all, and wants to take care of, all creation.  While the control of meteorological events may seem beyond most of us, trusting God is well within our reach.  Perhaps then, we too can be still.

I wish you Sabbath peace,

James R. Dennis, O.P.

© 2012 James R. Dennis

15 responses to “Peace! Be Still!

  1. Thanks be to God.

  2. Humanly, it is humbling to realize how very little we trust God’s hand of control on our lives, when trouble keeps us up at night. Good reminder of His sovereignty!

  3. James, I passed over reading this post yesterday. I just read it–just when I need it. Of course! Gratias, walt

  4. James–I just realized a coincidence: My youngest brother’s name is DENNIS JAMES (Chura)!

  5. Dear Brother James,

    As you say, it is so natural for us to ask God, “Don’t you see? Don’t you care?” Thanks for reminding us that this story is most of all about trust. May we have the grace to say, “Thy will be done,” and then to do it.


    • Dear Ron,

      Thanks so much for your encouragement. I wonder how often we really mean “thy will be done.” Conforming our will to the Father’s, learning to trust in His tender mercies, that can be so very difficult. I hope you’re well.


      Br. James

  6. Brother James,
    Hey it’s Brother Gideon. Just wanted to let you know that I appreciated your continued support. I can always count on a visit from you and it warms my heart. Your blog is simply perfect. You know, some of the greatest artists in the world have the uncanny ability to create form and substance with very few brush strokes. So also you have the profound ability to convey the essence of Truth with an economy of words. May our Lord continue to bless you and I have added you to my prayer list of men of God that I keep mindful of and support through prayer. I know one fine day, I will meet you on the other side of eternity and we will instantly know each other!
    Praise our Savior!

    • Dear Brother Gideon,

      I cannot thank you enough for your kindness. Among the spiritual gifts I really work toward is the gift of encouragement. So many of us need that today.

      You are very thoughtful to add me to your prayers, and you are in mine.

      Thanks be to God,

      Br. James

  7. Thank you, I took comfort in this and good remembrance, Linda

  8. Pingback: Shamanic Revelations | Meaning Making

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