Week 3 of Ordinary Time, Saturday – 1st February 2020 — Gospel: Mark 4,35-41
Sermon on the Sea
Jesus had been teaching the multitude in parables from a boat anchored just offshore (4,1). His lengthy teaching is called Mark’s “Sermon on the Sea”. Having completed a day of teaching (4,1-34), it is the first time in the Gospel that Jesus has been called “Teacher”. This time he teaches a powerful lesson of faith, learned by experience. Jesus’ subduing of the sea is an epiphany, a manifestation of his divine authority. In the Old Testament sea is often viewed as a symbol of chaos and the habitation of evil powers (Job 26,12-13; Ps 74,13-14; Is 27,1). Jesus exorcises these adverse forces of nature with the same authority with which he freed human beings from demonic oppression. ‘Rebuked’ is the same word used to describe his casting out of unclean spirits (1,25; 3,12). As the disciples knew well, God alone has power to subdue the seas: “You rule the raging sea; you still its swelling waves” (Ps 89,10; Job 38,38; Ps 65,8). Indeed, from the Exodus on, God’s control of the sea has signified his tender care for his people (Ex 15; Is 51,10). So after Jesus calms the storm, their abject terror of the forces of nature has been replaced by reverential fear of the presence of God in Jesus.