From the Gospel reading today, Mark 4:35-41, we get the wonderful image of the Calming of the Storm.
The Sea of Galillee is known as Lake Kinneret around and about Israel. Kinneret means ‘harp’; the lake is harp shaped, though the name is taken from an ancient town which was located on the northwest shore. Galilee means “circle” and it’s the name of the lake and the region where it is located.
It’s below sea level, about 695 feet below at that, making it the lowest freshwater lake in the world. Because it is so low, air from the nearby mountains or deserts can settle in and cause rapid shifts in weather patterns, creating huge storms over the sea. It’s one such storm that the Gospel brings to life.
I visited the Sea of Galilee several years ago and was struck by it’s beauty. No picture I have ever seen does it justice, or prepares one for the rich abundance of the area. It’s no wonder God chose to live in that area for several years.
One of the most popular images of the calming of the storm on the internet is a picture of that name done by Rembrandt, The Calming of the Storm . It’s currently on the list of the FBI’s Top Ten Art Crimes! Who knew! (Great images of Biblical themes can also be explored via the Biblical Art Site.)
man of gentleness, man of peace, with words of life
Exploring and meditating on the life of Jesus Christ, which of course is what a Christian does, we note he’s a man of great gentleness, a man of peace; his words are life giving.
That description has been with me for several months now, and I keep going back to it, dwelling upon it to model my own life. In the calming of the storm we often look at the metaphorical level: Jesus calms the storms of our often troubled lives.
That’s great. Obviously.
But we should also look to the fact that we are called to be Christ-like, and that we are called to be people of peace in a world which is often troubled.
A must see.
There’s a movie made in 2002 about John XXIII, his life, his election as Pontiff, his pontificate and ultimate calling of Vatican II. It’s a must see.
In it, he says of the Pope to be elected, that he must be a man who has peace in his heart. Because if a man has peace in his heart, then all else will work out well.
And of course peace in our heart comes from submission to the rules of right living, which is what a submission to Christ is. A true submission in humility, patient endurance, in love… It’s not about an idle or fearful subservience, rather it’s a submission to the rules of right living, a recipe for greatness, and a call to nobility of character.
Right living produces right results.
St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians reminds us today about love. The Corinthians were the recipients of a fantastic reminder of the greatest gift, the gift of love, in Paul’s first letter to them (1Cor13 ) Of course being all too human they needed a second letter from Paul to stay on course. (I mention that because I can relate to so well to being human.)
Through love, a loving personal relationship with Jesus Christ, through faith in him, we are transformed and made mysteriously new. All things are renewed by Christ’s redemptive work. It’s mysterious; no one expects that everyone will believe or accept that fact.
But it’s also true, and will transform the lives of those who believe. Immersed in Jesus Christ we are made new; we become a new creation in a mysterious, yet very real, way. We become oriented to understanding the mysteries of Faith, of Scripture, religion, of spirituality.
People of Peace
Becoming an instrument of peace in the world today is probably one of the greatest things that one can do with one’s life. We need to have healing hearts. We need to all become men and women of peace, men and women of gentleness, whose words are life giving.
Thomas Merton wrote of peace:
To adopt a way of life that is essentially nonassertive, non- violent, a life of humility and peace is in itself a statement of oneís position. But each one in such a life can, by the personal modality of his position, give his whole life a special orientation.
It is my intention to make my entire life a rejection of, a protest against the crimes and in- justices of war and political tyranny which threaten to destroy the whole race of man and the world with him. By my monastic life and vows I am saying no to all the concentration camps, the aerial bombardments, the staged political trials, the judicial murders, the racial injustices, the economic tyrannies, and the whole socioeconomic apparatus, which seems geared for nothing but global destruction in spite of all its fair words in favor of peace.
I make monastic silence a protest against the lies of politicians, propagandists, and agitators, and when I speak it is to deny that my faith and my church can ever be aligned with these forces of injustices and destruction. But it is true, nevertheless, that the faith in which I believe is also invoked by many who believe in war, believe in racial injustices, believe in selfrighteous and lying forms of tyranny. My life must, then, be a protest against these also, and perhaps against these most of all.
Our lives are a witness to peace.
John XXIII left us great advice:
“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.” John XXIII
For future reference, check out the Catholic Peace Fellowship.
Called to greatness, called to noble lives, we are instruments of God’s peace in our time on Earth.
Men and women of peace, men and women of life, of gentleness, with words that are life giving for all.
So let it be written. So let it be done.