Saturday in the Third Week of Ordinary Time at Mississippi Abbey
Scripture Readings: 2 Sam 12:1-7, 10-17; Mk 4:35-41
The gospels reflect our interior lives. Have you, like the disciples today, ever had an experience of actually being saved by Jesus Christ? What were you saved from? Have you had the experience of suffering intensely and then He somehow manifested Himself to you in a way that changed the meaning of it, indeed, changed the whole orientation of your heart?
Suffering with Christ is qualitatively different from suffering apart from Christ. Have you noticed that? Suffering apart from Christ is usually about an unfulfilled desire for something of this world. It might be pleasure, possessions, or status. But suffering of this type is more than a passing disappointment or irritant. It is a crisis that calls into question the worthwhileness of one’s life as she has been living it.
St. Bernard writes that knowledge of self without knowledge of God only begets despair. (Songs 37.1) That seems to be what today’s gospel is about.This gospel is commonly seen as a metaphor for the interior suffering we go through apart from suffering with Christ. The disciples feel they are perishing… about to die. (Notice that they suffer as a community.) Apart from Christ, things die when they are radically separated from their proper orientation or purpose. That’s why sin is death.There was a separation in the boat in that Jesus was asleep on a cushion and they were experiencing the terror of the storm. They had knowledge of themselves, but not of God.They sought His help, but had no idea what form it would take.He calms the storm. Jesus as the New Adam shows the power over creation that the first Adam had lost. Giving them an experience ofGod as both creator and savior re-aligns them to their proper orientation: faith in Him and in His Father.
“They were filled with great awe.” (Note that they rejoice as a community.) What they experienced from Jesus was love. In other words, they experienced someone pursuing their good for their own sake. (Notice love’s power to create communion and thus to experience gospel suffering.) It was a good no one else could possibly have obtained. And how could they have merited something of such proportion?
Jesus called them to faith. Knowledge of self needs knowledge of God. In the midst of a storm the faith we are called to is hope; faith for the future. Suffering with Christ is always done in hope.
Suffering with Christ is not just about self.The essential feature of Christ-like suffering is its effect. It leads to resurrection, vindication, and God’s glory.