“He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:39
Rembrandt’s, Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, depicts the Apostles and Christ out on the Sea of Galilee in two small fishing boats. Five Apostles are on a vessel at the peak of a wave working very hard to survive the storm. The other six Apostles are with Christ. One is at the front hanging on to the rigging and the others are at the stern pleading with Christ to do something. Except for this one figure who is leaning over the side. My guess is he is seasick. Most of the painting is in black and dark blue, with the exception of light at the front of the two boats coming from outside of the painting and the face of Christ. Each of the Apostles has a different action as the violent sea is heaving the two boats up on the crest of the waves.
In the Gospel, Christ awakens, quiets the sea and then asks two questions of the Apostles: “Why are you terrified?” and “Do you not yet have faith?”. By this point in Mark’s Gospel, the Apostles have witnessed a couple of miracles and have just heard three parables about the Kingdom of God. In my reflection, I imagined that these two questions have come out of disappointment and bewilderment as to why the Apostles haven’t understood the message yet. As a teacher, I am right there with Jesus. I have the same feelings when after two or three days of instruction a student misses a question or two or three on the test or a quiz. “How could you miss this?” They were not paying attention. Hmm, how could the Apostles not pay attention to Jesus? They were average fishermen, tax collector, farmers and the like. Common ordinary men who most likely were distracted during some of Jesus teaching and miracles. Or they just didn’t understand. We know that they “get it” at Pentecost after receiving the Holy Spirit. The last verse in today’s Gospel tells us that they were still trying to figure it all out, “They were filled with awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”
The spiritual life is a journey of reflecting on our own life and how God is there helping us along the way. What questions is Christ asking you? What questions do you have for Christ?
Linda Schork is a theology teacher at Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, Kentucky.