What kind of man is this?
Again this week, the mid-week Gospel reading (Matthew 8:23-27), is similar to last Sunday’s Gospel. Jesus and the disciples in a boat on the Sea of Galilee in a storm, and Jesus performs another ‘nature miracle.’ This time he calms the storm. We can read this gospel story about Jesus stilling the storm and know that something deep and profound is going on here. The story is more than just a ‘proof’ about the Lordship (Godship) of Jesus. If ‘proof texting’ is the only reason for our narration of this event, then we’ll remain smug and cosy about our own place in God’s world, but we will not have explored its depths or helped ourselves or others gain hope in the real world of the 21st century and environmental catastrophe!
There are two key sections here in Matthew Chapter 8. In the first (23-27), there is the sense of awe, wonder, and utter astonishment among the disciples who exclaim in amazement, ‘What kind of man is this, that even the wind and sea obey him?’ Does Jesus ability point us to our own innate relationship with nature? Not that we have power over nature but that our faith and this spiritual path invites us to ask help from our Creator for our well-being, and the well-being of creation: ‘Lord, save us, we are perishing!’ The raging storms and droughts are signs of our need of ‘this kind of man’ – the One who invites us and enables us in the Spirit to live and work for justice and love. I note, however, that after the second part of this chapter Matthew tells the story of the two Gadarene demoniacs (8:28-34). Jesus exorcizes the demons by casting them into the swine herd who then run over the cliff into the abyss, back to the place of terror and threat! The city folk then begged Jesus to leave; they wanted nothing to do with ‘this kind of man!’ So many will not listen to the good news that invites us to explore together deeper truths or insights about God and God’s ways in the world, even in the midst of the storms of pandemic and climate change. To live with and by ‘this kind of human being’ is our vocation; we should remember that not everyone will agree, and many will disparage our faith. But neither that opposition nor any ongoing pandemic should deter us. Faith and hope invite us to keep living for and by ‘this kind of human being.’ We all breath in the same Spirit – breath or wind – as on that day when Jesus and disciples faced the storm on Galilee, and we can still live into that same calming presence: the peace of God that passes all understanding. Fr Don