Safe with Jesus

06-20-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

When we listen to the various passages of the Book of Job, we hear the suffering Job calling out to God. Our Old Testament reading this weekend is the first response of God to Job's calling out to Him. The irony of the situation for Job is that God's reply is not what Job had expected or hoped for. God, instead, hits Job with a very long list of unanswerable questions. Job, in asking for God to speak to him, never expected what he got when God spoke. He wanted clear direct answers from God that explained everything; instead, God gave Job a battery of unanswerable queries. Job got more than he bargained for; he wanted solutions from God. Job, instead, got confusing "mystery" and learned the very great truth that God's ways are not Job's or often even any of our ways.

Do you notice that the questions God asks have the image or theme of the sea in them? This is a regular symbol in scripture for chaos or turmoil. The sea has its own power and does as it wants, except for when God controls it. The word of God created the seas and all that is in them and thus the sea cannot destroy God's creation in the end. The sea is subject to God's power. The all-powerful sea is not truly able to test God; why would the puny human Job ever try is really the question.

Our Gospel story tells us of discovering Jesus out on the sea asleep during an out-of-control storm. Jesus appears not to notice the terror and fear that His followers feel during this violent storm as they beg Him to help them. Strikingly, Jesus calms the storm with a word. And much like God does to Job, he then turns and asks them questions. He also tells them that they have very little faith. The disciples response to the question about "who can this be?" indicates that they are now starting to have an understanding and some growth in the great miracle of faith.

The very earliest followers who heard or read the Gospel of Mark collectively understood the image of the sea as a sign of chaos. They were quick to grasp that the boat is an image of the Church. This was a boat that was under the watchful eye of Jesus who sailed with them in that very boat. Jesus also sails with us. He is the "captain" of our boat. This is always a very good thing to remember when our lives become difficult or painful or confused

Our reading from Corinthians informs us of the new creation brought about by Christ. "New things have come." These are not merely written descriptive words; they are overwhelming words of power. As we know from our religious imagery that the sea is limited by God's word and storms are calmed, so we know that death itself is limited and made calm in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Bear in mind that all of the miracles of Jesus, even his so-called "nature miracles," are bound up in faith. We tend to think that a miracle is something superhuman when, in fact, it is the power to do good. Miracles are actually signs of faith. Thus we know that faith can work miracles. We learn in the Gospel stories that the miracles of Jesus are faith-filled happenings that show forth the graced power and reign of God. /n the Kingdom of God, which we call creation, everything and everyone is subject to the word of God, and as a result people are healed in body and soul. /n the Gospel, the miracles of Jesus are signs that God's reign has arrived and those who are in the boat with Jesus will be safe with Him. We will have the storms of life, but because we have Jesus with us we will be safe at the end of our life on earth.