Saturday, June 20, 2015

Why are we such cowards?

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
June 21, 2015

Mark 4:35-41

"Why are you so cowardly? Do you still have no faith?". These two questions that Jesus addresses to his disciples are not, for the evangelist Mark, an anecdote from the past. They are questions that Jesus' followers must hear in the midst of their crisis. Questions we are to ask today too: What is the root of our cowardice? Why are we we afraid of the future? Is it because we lack faith in Jesus?

The story is brief. Everything begins with Jesus' order: "Let us cross to the other side." The disciples know that on the other shore of Lake Tiberias is the pagan territory of the Decapolis. A different and strange country. A culture hostile to their religion and beliefs.

Suddenly a heavy storm -- a graphic metaphor for what is happening in the group of disciples -- comes up. The stormy wind, waves crashing against the boat, water beginning to invade everything, express the situation well: What can Jesus' followers do against the hostility of the pagan world? Not only is their mission in danger, but also the very survival of the group.

Awakened by his disciples, Jesus intervenes, the wind dies down, and a great calm comes over the lake. What is surprising is that the disciples "remain terrified." Before they were afraid of the storm. Now they seem to fear Jesus. But something crucial has occurred in them: They have turned to Jesus. They have experienced a saving force in him they didn't know. They begin to wonder about his identity. They begin to sense that anything is possible with him.

Christianity is now in the midst of a "strong storm" and fear is beginning to take hold of us. We dare not cross to the "other side". Modern culture is a strange and hostile country to us. The future frightens us. Creativity seems prohibited. Some believe it's safer to look back to move forward better.

Jesus could surprise us all. The Risen One has the power to inaugurate a new phase in the history of Christianity. We are only being asked to have faith. A faith that frees us from so much fear and cowardice and commits us to walk in Jesus' footsteps.

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