When it was evening, the boat was far out on the sea and Jesus was alone on shore. Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night, he came towards them walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out. They had all seen him and were terrified. But at once he spoke with them. “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid.” (Mk 6:45-52)
Twice, earlier in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus calms the fears of others. The first time was also on the sea. A great storm came up and Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat. The disciples woke him. He calmed the storm and then said: “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”
In today’s Gospel, once again the disciples are terrified. Jesus responds: “It is I, do not be afraid.”
The darkness, the water, the wind – these represent the dark forces that can threaten us: Crime, terrorism, chemical weapons, nuclear war, disease, or … a relationship that seems about to break, serious financial problems, a job that is shaky.
God is not an absentee God. “The word was made flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
Keep celebrating Christmas, and hear the Lord say to you, “It is I. Do not be afraid.”