Mark’s account of Jesus walking on the water and calming the storm is intriguing in today’s Gospel because it continues the account seen in yesterday‘s Gospel regarding the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Yesterday the story begins with Our Lord looking down compassionately on the crowds and wanting to provide for their needs. Today he sends the disciples across the sea, but even when he stays behind and goes off to pray he is keeping an eye on them. He sees them in difficulty and plans just “to pass by them”: was this a test? What was he expecting from the disciples?
In the end, when everything had settled down, Mark recalls that they had not understood the incident of the loaves and for that reason they were shocked by what had just happened. Perhaps Our Lord expected more faith and trust, and thought that just by passing by them on the water, after he’d just performed the miracle of the multiplication, they’d recognize him and his power and not be afraid. Instead, due to their ignorance and hardened hearts, they didn’t recognize him out on the water and panicked more, thinking death was near. Sometimes it’s easier to recognize Our Lord at work at calm moments and in broad daylight, but in turbulent and dark times we need a more robust faith that believes he is at work even when it’s not clear to us.
Before Our Lord’s Incarnation and birth mankind was in darkness and on stormy waters, and we’d only retained a faint awareness of God’s presence, but as something unsure and at a distance. In becoming flesh Our Lord has gotten into the boat of life with us. He’s still close. Let’s open our hearts to him and foster the faith that helps us see him at work.
Readings: 1 John 4:11–18; Psalm 72:1–2, 10, 12–13; Mark 6:45–52. See also 13th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday.