Two of the readings today tell us how God limited the power of the sea (Job 38.1& 8-11; Mk 4.35-41). In ancient times mankind knew how powerful - and how unpredictable - the sea could be. The sea gives us life, and encourages travel and transport. But it is also a potential source of great destruction.

In Britain today there are homeowners who watch helplessly as the North Sea eats away at the coastline, creeping nearer and nearer their homes. Sometimes houses have to be abandoned and crash into the sea. We are warned that global warming is creating rising sea levels, and that some low-lying island nations like the Maldives may be inundated. So you could say that the sea is a symbol of our whole world.

Nature gives us life, but nature sometimes seems out of control. Perhaps there is even fear of human nature here. We look within us and know that sometimes our own inner depths surge dangerously.

The readings today, in fact, are asking us to confront some of our most hidden fears, fears about life¹s forces swamping our little boat.

The first reading reminds us that God is creator. And God has given the world its balance, its limits. Job here is picking up the much older creation story in Genesis. If you look at the opening verses of the Bible, you will find that the earth, in its beginning, is portrayed as a raging sea. Over this sea the divine Spirit moves, bringing order out of chaos. Job is reminding us that when we call God the Creator of the world, we are not describing a past event. Rather, we mean that God who created the world continues to create it. The same Spirit moves over the earth today, restoring its imbalances, stilling its storms, bringing order. Realising this, we should be reassured.

We find further reassurance in the gospel. We read that it 'began to blow a gale' when the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee. By showing us that the wind drops and their safety is assured, Mark wants us to understand that Jesus, as Son of God, shares the power of God over the natural order. Whatever threatens humankind can be rebuked by the Son of God. What does this say to us in our own day? I think that we are vulnerable to storms both as individuals and as societies. As individuals we are vulnerable both emotionally and physically.

As societies we are vulnerable to extremists of many different kinds. The gospel today reminds us that Jesus confronts and rebukes the forces that would sometimes destabilise us.

This is his calming power; but it is also a challenge to us, so that we may play our part in his work, and especially, that we may seek a more balanced world.Jesus rebuking the storm also tells us that violence is not part of God’s plan. God does not want us to live in fear. Yes, there is a freedom for humans, as for nature, to behave in their own way. We do not always use this freedom well or wisely.

Jesus rebuking the storm should give us courage, too, to make a stand against whatever and whoever would promote violence and fear in our world. Fr Terry Tastard is Parish Priest of Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, Brook Green, London W6.

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