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  • Writer's pictureFr. Scott Haynes

Christ Rebukes the Storm

Fr. Scott A. Haynes

Matt 8:23-27

At that time, Jesus got into a boat, and His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose

a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was covered by the waves; but He was asleep.

So they came and woke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! we are perishing!” But He said to them,

“Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the sea,

and there came a great calm. And the men marvelled, saying, “What manner of Man is this,

that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

“My cat is a tabby... (and today he is my spiritual director!) Just now he was in the garden when a black cat came loping along the garden wall, a very unpleasant fellow, I must admit, definitely marked by the underworld; my tabby became very anxious. He rushed to [my glass patio door], his pink mouth wide open, his face raddled with fear. I let him in, and no sooner had he jumped on my lap than he relaxed, he went limp, and indicated by various signs known to me that he wanted his ears scratched — that done, he went to sleep.”

This passage from the English writer, Caryll Houselander, offers us a lesson in trust. The disciples in the boat were terrified of this storm. It was of seismic proportions. The waves were crashing upon them. The boat was almost completely filled with water. The fierce winds were threating to turn the ship bottoms up and there was Jesus asleep on a pillow. The disciples turn to their master, rather like Miss Houselander’s scared cat in the garden, full of anxiety and fear. After the disciples wake Jesus, He said to them,

“Why are you afraid, O ye of little faith?”

In Jewish Cosmology, at the time of Christ, the sea was considered to be the realm of chaos, demons, and hell. Remember that when Jesus met the Gadarene demoniacs, He sent those demons into pigs who then run into the sea. The sea was the home of demons. I think Scripture is implying that the presence of Jesus on the boat that day stirred up a storm in Hell. The presence of the Prince of Peace did violence to the dominion of the devil. The humility of Jesus “meek and mild” burned the arrogance of Hell. So, it seems, wherever we sail with Jesus in this world, we ought to expect a storm—a violent reaction from the demonic forces.

The Greek word translated “storm” in the Gospel today is the word seismos. From this, we get the word “seismology.” Everywhere else in Scripture we find it translated as an “earthquake.” There are certainly other Greek words for a storm, and St. Matthew could have used them here in this passage, but he obviously wants us to make a connection to the seismos of this event and the seismos of Good Friday, when it seemed that the powers of Hell had triumphed. Hell tried to swallow Heaven. Evil tried to consume good, but it could not stomach the meal. And there was a great seismos. As St. Matthew records,

“the rocks were split and the tombs were opened.” (Matthew 27:52).

This Gospel scene can teach us a lesson in prayer. There are many ways of prayer; to “lift up the heart and mind to God,” as St. Theresa of Avila calls it. There is prayer like that of Moses, when he lifted up his arms and kept them up, straining and agonizing, before God; there is the prayer which Christ describes in one of His parables, which could be called “the prayer of importunity,” a persistent, continual hammering, and beating on the door of Heaven until we get what we are seeking. There is the prayer of the disciples in the midst of the storm, “Master, save us!” It is a prayer of desperation.

Miss Houselander writes,

“I ought to be able to treat God as my cat treats me . . . we must learn to trust God.” “But trust does not mean believing that God will spare us from suffering . . .”

Notice that in this Gospel, Jesus leads His disciples into the storm, and He did it on purpose. He did not save them from the storm. No. He saved them in the midst of it.

My dear friends in Jesus and Mary, know and believe that the circumstances of your life, every minute of your life, as well as the whole course of your life-anything and everything that happens–have all come to you by His will and by His permission. You must utterly believe that everything that has happened to you is from God and is exactly what you need.

As the Lord leads us into the storm, and we see Him resting on his pillow because, remember Jesus is in charge.

Christus vincit. Christus reganat. Christus imperat. (“Christ conquers. Christ rules. Christ commands").

In the world and in the church, there are times in which it seems that the storm will overtake us. But have no fear. Jesus will awaken, rebuke the storm, and bring us peace.


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