"Who can this be? Even the wind and sea obey him."
The Word This Week
There is a strangely simple theme to this Sunday: that God has power over the forces of nature, because he created them in the first place. This is what the first reading tells us, and also what the gospel shows us, when Jesus “rebukes the wind”. This tells us something about Jesus (that he is God made man), and also something about our faith. It's also interesting that the disciples react to this miracle with fear and awe ‑ as if their minds were suddenly opened to a reality they had not realised before. They had chosen to follow the Christ who had called them, but we see their understanding of who he is growing and developing. Perhaps this is of comfort to us, as we see our relationship with the Lord who controls the waters grow and develop, and alerts us to be ready for the surprises that following the Lord can bring.
Notes for Readers
The first and most important point is that this is poetry. Unlike recent weeks, where we have had narrative or story passages, this week we are working with a completely different form of text. Poetry deals with images and pictures, and uses words not just to convey meaning but also to evoke ideas and emotions. This is why the vocabulary of this reading is much richer than a narrative passage. This is both a help and a hindrance to the reader. It is a help, because you can enjoy and relish the richness of the words, but it can be a hindrance, since the unfamiliarity of some words will cause your listeners not to follow. It could be a good exercise to imagine this reading printed in colour ‑ think what colour you would want certain words to be written in (for example “leapt tumultuous" might be a crystalline blue; "robe of mist" a pale grey, and so on.) This will help you to read the poetry ‑ to read the colours of the words (if that doesn’t sound too strange!) Remember that in these nine lines it is more important to paint a picture in the minds of listeners than to convey a precise meaning. The final two lines are the most precise ‑ having painted a word picture of the stormy sea, God says firmly “this far and no further”. This is the obvious link to the Gospel.
This is one of the hardest things you will ever have to read! The problem is not the words, which are very straightforward, but the meaning, which is very obscure. The following is an attempt to paraphrase the reading, to help your understanding.
“Christ's love for us is so great: think about it: he died for us, in our place. This means that (if he hadn't) we would all be dead. He did this so that we could change our lives ‑so that we would get rid of selfishness, and live our lives for him, who died and rose for us. So, because of this change, because we now live, not for this moment, but for eternity, we have a new way of judging ‑ not by what the world sees, the external. Perhaps that is how Christ himself once seemed, but he is not like that now. If we are (baptised) in Christ, we have changed, and there is something new; our old self has gone, and we are a new creation.”
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