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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Meditation on This Week's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The Readings for Sunday, June 21, 2009:

First Reading: Job 38:1-11

First Reading (Semi-cont.): 1 Samuel 17:[1a, 4-11, 19-23] 32-49

First Reading (Alt.): 1 Samuel 17:57--18:5, 10-16 (Semi-continuous)

Psalm: Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32

Psalm (Semi-cont.): Psalm 9:9-20

Psalm (Alt.): Psalm 133 (Semi-continuous)

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:1-13

Gospel: Mark 4:35-41

We live in storm-tossed times. Even those of us who have managed to hold onto our jobs worry about what the next year will bring. Those institutions who have managed to plug the holes in their leaky boats must think about what they'll do when the stimulus money runs out. And of course, many of us might be feeling more alone than we've ever felt before, no matter what our financial luck happens to be.

Maybe we can relate to those disciples in this week's Gospel. The boat is taking on water. We're sinking. We'll die out here in the middle of this lake. It was bad back there with the crowds, but we don't want to perish this way. And so, like the disciples, we call out: "Where are you God? Don't you care about us, Jesus?"

Look at the response of Jesus in this passage. Many theologians have noted that he doesn't mock them for their fears. Their fears are real and valid. But he asks them why they're letting their fears get the best of them. It's as if he's saying, "I'm right here. I'm with you. Have you forgotten what is possible when I'm in your boat?"

And then, he calms the storm. You can look at this part of the passage in many ways. The traditional way is to see this as an example of the authority of Jesus. He has dominion over the seas and the storm. The natural world bows to his commands.

You can also see the storm as metaphorical. When we're having trouble, we often use storm imagery to describe our state, just as I did in the first paragraph. Jesus is there to calm the storm.

Notice, too, that just because we're believers, that doesn't mean that we will never experience storms. We will, and we will likely be afraid. But Jesus assures us that even though we might feel alone, we are not alone. The storms will come, and storms will go. But God is always there, with us, in our boats.

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