The Boat of Christ
When we are overwhelmed with life’s challenges, it is quite usual for us to ask questions like, where is God now? Does He really exist? If He exists, then is He asleep?
Mark is writing his Gospel around AD 60 – 65. Christianity has spread to many places and the boat of Christ (the Church) was in troubled waters – tossed and turned by the waves of division, persecution, false preaching, and many other internal and external struggles. Mark was giving hope to all Christians to face all the challenges of life with faith in Christ. Jesus is not asleep (dead); He is risen, and He will come to rescue His church.
Jewish people in the Old Testament time had a fear of waters and darkness. In the creation story we see how God subdued darkness by creating light. He then limited the chaotic powers of the sea by creating the land and determining its borders. The Hebrew’s fear of waters can be very well seen in their exaggeration – naming a small body of water the ‘Sea of Galilee’, rather than as a lake.
Mark uses these scenarios to drive home a lesson to the early Church. The scripture passage today begins with both negative elements present. When it was dark, Jesus and His disciples traveled on the waters. Where are they going to? They are going to the pagan territory called Gerasene, the land of pigs and demons. The boat of Christ (the church) must travel to all pagan territories to take Jesus to those lands. That is the mission of the Church.
As we, the Church, travel to those lands, we will face all sorts of troubles. All negative elements will fight and resist the Good News. The boat which is carrying Christ may seem small; it may be turned and tossed by these worldly powers and there may be times when Jesus seems to be asleep. But Mark is constantly reminding us to trust in the power of Christ. He is God. He subdued these negative elements at the time of creation. And He will do it again and again for the sake of His Church.
Worldly powers will always resist the freedom of Christ. As Jesus’ disciples, we do not “belong to this world”. Our mission is to navigate the boat of Christ through troubled waters to the lands of Gerasene.
– Fr. Ranjan D’Sa OCD