God's storm is the pangs of a new birth

Brett Fawcett


Sunday – June 14, 2015
Job 38.1-4, 8-11 | Psalm 107 | 2 Corinthians 5.14-17 | Mark 4.35-41
June 15, 2015

Today's Gospel reading tells the familiar story of Jesus, asleep in the boat in the midst of a storm, awakened by his agitated apostles to calm the wind and the waves.

Mark presumably recorded this story as a consolation to the persecuted Church, but what consolation are believers supposed to derive from it? Are we supposed to assume that Jesus will calm all the turbulent problems of our lives?

Many of us are still in the thick of storms that show no signs of letting up. Job, for example, suddenly found his life inexplicably plunged into tumult, and this is not so different from our experience. What consolation was there for him?

When God finally did answer Job, we hear in the First Reading, he spoke to him "out of the storm." I think this is the consolation that Mark offers us: Not that Jesus calms the storm, but that he was present in the storm in the first place. The really consoling part is that he could sleep in the midst of it.

Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? – Mark 4.41

Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?'

Mark 4.41

Ironically, this is the very thing that troubled the disciples. "Do you not care that we are perishing?" But the apostles didn't think to ask why there was a storm at all.

The answer to that is found in today's Psalm: God is the one whose "command raised up a storm wind" and caused the hearts of sailors to sink in fear.

The one who caused the storm in the first place was the same Lord whom Jesus trusted as his Father. This is why he could sleep while the storm raged: He trusted in the one controlling the storm, a trust which would carry him through the storm of the Passion until he fell asleep on the cross.

That was the sort of trust lacking in his disciples, then and now.

Finally, consider what God tells Job out of the storm. He reminds Job that it was he who created the waters in the first place, and the language he uses reminds us of a birth ("it burst forth from the womb").

Birth is an event in which pain and suffering result in new life being brought forth. In today's New Testament reading, St. Paul tells Christians that, by virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, we are a "new creation."

This reality gives us a sense of how to interpret the storms in our lives.

They are really the pangs of an ongoing new birth, begun at Baptism and culminating in "the hour of our death" – a new birth into the state of childlike, filial trust in the God of love who rules the wind, the waves and the heavens.