Sybil 2007

Gospel text

Mark 4: 35-41

35 That day, when it was evening, Jesus said to them, "Let us cross to the other side". Leaving the crowd, they took him away while he was already in the boat, and other boats accompanied him. 37 Then a great gust of wind came up and the waves hit the boat, so that it filled up. But he slept in the back, his head resting on a cushion. They wake him up and say to him, "Master, do not you care that we perish? After awakening, he defied the wind and said to the sea, "Shut up! Submit yourself! Then the wind fell and a great calm became. 40 Jesus said to them, "Why are you so afraid? Have you not yet faith?" 41 Then they felt a great fear and said to each other, "Who is he that the wind and the sea submit to him?"


When the storm of the bad news hits us, we dare to believe that we will not be left alone

Gospel commentary - Homily

What is believing?

A while ago, a wave of panic seized the stock markets. We no longer had confidence. Not only have stock brockers been reckless, but some have turned out to be crooks. Result: many human dramas. People have seen their savings reduced to ashes. Future retirees are forced to continue working. Some have lost their job or are afraid of losing it. The dramas are not easy to live.

This context can help us to get into the story of Mark's Gospel. After speaking to the Jewish crowd of the Kingdom of God through parables, Jesus embarks with his disciples at night to cross the lake of Galilee to join the region of people of Greek origin. It is at this moment that a violent gust of wind erupts to the point of crashing the boat. The disciples go through what we all experience in violent storms: fear. But in our story there is something more: not only are the disciples afraid, but they are outraged by the indifference of Jesus who sleeps in the back of the boat: "You do not care what we perish?" You know what happens next: Jesus wakes up, calms the natural elements, then reproaches the disciples: "But where is your faith? ".

To understand this story well, let us think back to the time when Mark wrote it, probably in Rome. Christians have left the Palestinian milieu, crossed the Mediterranean, to go into a pagan environment where they will experience hostility. Nero will persecute the young Christian community. Among others, believers will be tied to poles on which they will set fire to burn in the night like torches to light the city. What questions do you think these young baptized who, after proclaiming the risen Christ and singing Alleluia, see the barque of the community almost completely destroyed? She shouts, "Are you indifferent to what's happening to us, why are you destroying your community?"

But two thousand years later, the same cries rise in the night. Think for a moment about the questions that may have arisen from Japanese Christians when the atomic bomb fell on the city of Nagasaki in August 1945. Let's not forget that Nagasaki was Japan's largest Christian community. Was it not normal to say, "But Lord, you are completely mad, you have just destroyed your child, the one to whom we promised a bright future!" Here, everyone can name a situation, an event where God seems absent, where we hope in vain for his intervention. In these moments, we have the impression that God would not exist that it would change absolutely nothing.

But then how to receive the questioning (or reproach) of Jesus: "Where is your faith?" Is it a blind faith: "You will not see any change, but believe anyway"? When one attentively listens to Jesus' words, it is clear that for him faith is what makes it possible to find life. Faith is what made him live. The story of the soothing storm must be interpreted in the light of the previous story in which Jesus proclaims his faith by saying that the Kingdom of God resembles a mustard seed that becomes a tree where the birds of the universe come to shelter; in other words, Jesus says this: "What you see is that my preaching is going nowhere, but know that what I have sown will have a universal impact through the times". Without this faith, Jesus would immediately return to his workshop to repair wooden tools.

Our mistake is to imagine that with God the storms disappear. But the opposite is happening. So what is the use of faith? What is this image of the calm sea and the wind that falls in the story of this day? Listen to this story. A journalist reported one day on the violent xenophobic movements in Russia and the testimony of a Moscow Jew who, after being seriously injured because he was not Slavic, decided to keep a blog on the Internet. A neo-Nazi wrote to him: "We will finish the job one day, we will kill you!" He responded by saying to the reporter, "We have to face them, that's the only solution." Calmness is this ability to believe that our action will bear fruit despite appearances to the contrary and to continue.

Jesus has experienced many storms. The last, he lived though it in the Garden of Gethsemane. We are told that he has lived through anxiety, which is a form of fear. But this anguish did not paralyze him, but he expressed himself in a prayer to God his Father and in a request to his disciples: "Stay with me". To believe for him was to feel that he was not alone, even though the presence of his disciples might have been better, just as the storm subsided when the disciples experienced a present Jesus, " wake up ". May we be present to people in anguish and storms, so that they may believe in their turn.


-André Gilbert, Gatineau, March 2009