Saturday of the 3rd Week of the Year

Mk 4:35-41

The Calming of a Storm at Sea


A West Coast doctor took an informal poll among his patients to find out what wish each would make if their wish were granted. The tally was very interesting. 87% said that peace of mind was their paramount goal. This is not a surprising find considering that peace has become a precious commodity in today’s world of conflicts and endless anxieties and worries.

This makes today’s gospel so refreshing and a real good news knowing that peace comes cheap. All we have to do is have faith in Jesus and peace comes at once. Peace rules the day when Christ rules our hearts.

When the disciples realized Jesus was with them fearless peace entered their hearts. To be with Jesus is to overcome fear and cowardice. This is faith communicating courage because it is rooted on the promises of Christ and his loving presence in all events. (Fr. Jojo Caballes, SVD Bible Diary 2004)


“Natutulog ba ang Dios?” is a haunting Filipino song echoing insecurity and depression at times when God seems to be absent or asleep in the midst of our tragedies. Almost instinctively we demand maximum protection, full-attention, wellbeing and peace from a loving God. Why does a benevolent God allow evil and suffering to befall us? It is an age-old question which may just hover above our heads until we experience ourselves the specter of suffering and death mocking us in  the face; killer tsunami waves, typhoons and floods, abject poverty, political instability, genocide, terrorist attacks, broken relationships, loss of a loved one, career failure, vehicular accidents, sickness and infinitum.

We may well ask: If Jesus stilled the raging storm on the Sea of Galilee 2000 years ago. Why does He not intervene now? For certain we will run the risk of breaking our heart and losing our faith if we take the gospel narrative simply as the stilling of the raging storm. The significance of the story is far greater than that. The meaning of this story is not that Jesus subdued a storm in Galilee but that whatever Jesus is present the storms of life – natural or man-made, external or internal – become calm. It means that in the presence of Jesus the most terrifying of tragedies turns to peace and serenity. His presence is His assuring to us: “I am there, I will be there. Why are you terrified? Do you not have faith yet?”

Are we thankfully aware of Jesus’ presence in our hearts, in our families, in our communities, in our church, in our world? We may never fully understand why evil and suffering befall the world, why certain storms and calamities break into our lives, but the awareness of His presence gives us inner peace, hope and strength to brave every storm. “Huwag mo sanang akalain, natutulog pa ang Dios, ang buhay mo ay mayroong halaga sa Kanya.” (Fr. Oliver Quilab, SVD Bible Diary 2006)


January 30, 2016 Saturday

In a small boat with 25 passengers, we were approaching the shore of San Jose in Occidental Mindoro on a stormy day. The boatman asked everyone to be calm and be ready to move out of the boat as quickly as possible when he gave the order. Our prayers were drowned by the noise of the rising waves that filled the boat with salt water and drenched the scared passengers. I could hear someone praying aloud beside me, “Lord spare us from drowning. I am only a deacon preparing myself for ordination. Please Lord save me!” I smiled at him and told him to get ready for the swim. He added, “Ahhhh I don’t know how to swim!” I said, “But you can oat” and soon afterwards our boat capsized. Slowly we helped each other swim to the shore until we were rescued safely to life.

In the story, Jesus was enjoying his much needed rest at the stern beside the boatman. He must have been smiling in his dream as he listened to our cries for help and prayers for deliverance. The howling wind and the roaring sea were music to his ears and rocking movements to his tired body. The good deacon beside me is now 36 years in the priesthood doing chaplaincy service in a Dormitory Apostolate. The Lord heard his prayers! He woke up and rebuked the wind and the sea. But he had two questions. “Why are you so terrified? Do you not have faith?”

These questions are closely related to each other. When one is afraid, there is a feeling of fear and anxiety. There is tension that builds up into a feeling of confusion until it breaks into a “terrifying” experience of mistrust. The lack of confidence builds up into hopelessness until it becomes an attitude of disbelief and lack of faith.

As we celebrate the National Bible Week and highlight it with the National Bible Sunday tomorrow, it is good to listen once again to the questions of Jesus, “Why are you so terrified? Do you not have faith?” What are the things that terrify me as a person? What are my personal issues that are contributory to disturbances and miscommunications in the community and society? How can I develop an attitude of trust and confidence in difficult situations? In the sea of life, the wind can build up big waves of fear and doubts that can submerge me and drown all my dreams into oblivion. I need to be aware of the presence of Jesus who is relaxing beside me. I need to develop this attitude of relaxation in Jesus and then wake him up when the wind of changes in my life becomes stormy and when the sea of experiences is rough. (Fr. Oscar Alunday, SVD | Pindangan, San Fernando, La Union Bible Diary 2016)



January 30, 2016

REFLECTION: There is something a bit comical in the episode reported in today’s first reading. And this comic side of a story which, in itself, is quite dramatic (it involves the death of Uriah the Hittite and of David’s illegitimate child) arises from the fact that David is unable to connect the dots and see through Nathan’s little parable. He is spiritually blind and does not really see his guilt in his adulterous affair with Bathsheba—until Nathan spells it out to him: “You are this man!”

The end of the story (the illness and death of Bathsheba’s baby) is of course a very debatable interpretation on the part of Nathan. In typical Old Testament fashion, when witnessing an untoward event (such as the death of a baby), people spontaneously attribute it to either God or some evil entity. But that is pure projection on God of their own primitive convictions about what they would do if they were God. But, in reality, God does not kill babies or anybody else for that matter. Our God is essentially a God of life. When Jesus comes and shows us the true face of God, he kisses children. He doesn’t kill them. Would his Father be any different?


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Today’s gospel reading gives us a great lesson about trust. In biblical parlance, to sleep as Jesus did is a manifestation of great trust in the protection and providence of God who never sleeps, but who is at work even as we sleep (cf. Mk 4:26-29). Hence, Jesus’ action of sleeping on a cushion is not just a consequence brought about by exhaustion from ministry. It speaks to us about Jesus’ surrender of self into the hands of “Abba.” Blessed, then, are they who are able to sleep well and soundly even in the midst of everything happening around. Truly, they are at peace with self and with God!

To trust is to have confidence even in the midst of God’s silence. This is what made Jesus say to the disciples: “Do you not yet have faith?” The disciples already had Jesus with them in the boat. Yet they still remarked: “…. Do you not care that we are perishing?” How many times have we behave this way, and asked God the same line of questioning?

Another thing: when God is silent, let us see this not just as a test of our trust in him, but also an expression of His trust in us….. that we can really can. (Fr. Domie Guzman, SSP New Every Morning New Everyday, Makati, St Pauls 2006:151)


Saturday of the 3rd Week of Ordinary Time

2 Sam 12: 1-7a, 10-17; Mk 4: 35- 41

Do not be Afraid 

St. Paul tells us that the mystery of our life as Christians is rooted in the breathtaking reality that Christ, the risen one, lives in us (Col 1:27). He lives in us through the power of the Holy Spirit, who penetrates our whole being. He is nearer to us than we ourselves are near to our very being. We seldom notice this nearness. Like the fish that does not notice the water in which it swims and we seldom are aware of the air we breathe, so do we not notice the all pervasive, life-giving and sustaining presence of God in our life. We are most of the time so occupied with our own worries and troubles that the nearness of God escapes is most of the time.

The Scripture of the OT as well as the NT talk tirelessly about this truth: God is always near us. We hear it said or sung in so many beautiful ways in the psalms like Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd. Here we find the soothing words: Even though I walk through the valley of death no evil do I fear because you are there with your staff and your crook. The same assurance we encounter in Psalm 139: Yahweh, I know you are near, always at my side, you guard me from my foe and you lead me in ways everlasting. Where shall I run from your love, where shall I fly; you will already be there before I reach any place, there is no place in the whole universe where you are not present with your constant love and care.

This theme finds its expression in thousands of ways. The most common phrase, found 364 times in scripture and which conveys this fact most distinctly since God Himself says it, are contained in those words: Do not be afraid because I am always at your side and I will see you through. We could say: For each day of the year God writes over each single day of my life: “Don’t be afraid, have no fear today, I will always be there in any situation you might find yourself, you can always rely on m presence.”

The reading of today explains this truth in a marvelous way in the form of a life story. This is the way Jesus tells us always the message he wants to convey: in parables and stories. The disciples got into a violent storm with their boat. They were terrified and feared for their life. But Jesus was with them in the stern of the boat sound asleep on a cushion. Almost in the form of rebuke they woke him up and asked: “Master, do you not care that we are perishing?” In all calmness Jesus got up, stilled the storm and asked them “Why are you so much afraid and terrified, why, did you forget that I am with you in the same boat?”Fr .Abraham Puthukulangara CMI



See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

Back to: Saturday of the 3rd Week of the Year

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