“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  June 24, 2024

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

You can almost hear the tone of voice of the apostles when they ask this.  Can’t you hear the fear, along with profound pain, that they feel, as their friend sleeps, apparently indifferent to the terrible situation?  They would’ve asked, “Jesus, have you forgotten us?”

When my father’s illness took a turn for the worse, and his death was imminent, by mother called me on the phone, it was a few days after Christmas 2003.  She asked if I could go to Peru where they were living at that time to help her.  Her request at first seemed impossible.  I was about to start my last semester of college in January, I had just finished my first year of seminary, and all was set for me to start seminary in Rome in a few months.

Needless to say, I went to Peru and the situation went from bad to worse.  My father died days after I arrived, but then came the hardest part: business troubles, family discord, lawyers, betrayals, boardroom meetings, taxes and a slew of complications.  I had just turned 21 years old, but there I was overseeing it all along with my mother.  When it appeared that things couldn’t get any worse, they did, and this continued on for months and months.  The problems were crushing, the pain overwhelming, and the storm raged on without an end in sight.

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

One evening, probably a few weeks after my dad died, I went to daily Mass at the local parish and heard the words from Psalm 34 – “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those whose spirit is crushed.”

“Is He?”  I remember thinking.  “Is He really close to the brokenhearted?  If he is, then, where is He?”

I wonder if the apostles were more upset at the fact that Jesus was sleeping with his head on a cushion.  Not only was he asleep at their moment of need, but the Gospel writer makes a point to record that Jesus was sleeping on a cushion.  He was comfortably asleep, and had likely intentionally prepared to take a nap.  If you just doze off, you usually don’t have a cushion ready.  Can you imagine the frustration of the apostles?  Their sense of being abandoned?

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

When Jesus calmed the storm, he didn’t address God the Father asking Him to calm the storm, Jesus spoke directly to the storm, “quiet, be still!”  These are similar words Jesus used to exorcise a young man in the first chapter of Mark when he spoke directly to the demon, “quiet, get out!”

Jesus speaks with authority, the same authority of God the Father in creation when He said, “let there be light” and there was light, and also said “let the earth bring forth vegetation, and the earth brought forth vegetation,” and so forth for the days of creation.

Jesus never explains to the apostles why he slept while the storm raged.  In a similar manner, God does not explain to Job in the first reading why Job is experiencing so much loss and pain.  But in both instances, God calls us to greater and deeper faith.  To trust that He is with us through the pain of the storm.

If I learned something from the storm that raged for the first six months after my father died, is that there are very few things or people in life worthy to cause me distress, fear, or doubt.  All storms are manageable, not because they aren’t scary or because I’m so great at dealing with them, but because I know that Jesus is there, and He has the power and authority to get me through it.

I wonder if his sleeping on the boat in a way, prefigures the sleep of Jesus from Good Friday until Easter Sunday.  Just as on the boat, the apostles felt abandoned and afraid, hidden behind locked doors for fear that they may come to kill them too.  As the storm raged from the fallout of his death, Jesus slept silently in the tomb.  But when he rose, he rose not just to calm the storm, but to defeat the greatest all of our fears: sin and death.  His resurrection does more than calming the storm, it crushes the storm.  Jesus has victory over all.

Whatever storms we have faced, or face now, especially when we don’t feel or see the presence of Jesus, we can face them unafraid knowing that in the end, the power of the resurrection brings redemption and healing to all things.  The Risen Christ remains always awake and vigilant.

May we find in Jesus, the strength to persevere, not losing faith, but rather, responding to the storm with greater faith and conviction.

Picture taken from the public domain.

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