Suppose you were lost at sea, and your boat — cruelly buffeted by wind and water — was about to sink. What would you do? You haven’t got a radio, so you can’t signal for help. And, to make matters worse, you can’t sail. Or swim. The skipper, meanwhile, who presumably can do both, has fallen fast asleep in his cabin and won’t come out.

Might there be a gospel counterpart to this? What about the episode with Jesus asleep in the boat, while a storm rages and the disciples cower with fear? “They came and woke him,” St. Mark tells us, “saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!”

And does he respond? Will he keep them safe? Or will he be like that other skipper, who, at the first sign of danger, retreats into his cabin where, amid the howling of the wind and the sea, simply refuses to come out? The answer is pretty clear: Jesus awakens at once and, asking why they are afraid, promptly sets about rebuking the wind and the waves. “And there was great calm,” the gospel tells us, which leaves the disciples most wonderfully confounded. “And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him’” (Mark 4:39-41)?  ….

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