20 June 2009

'Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?'

The Gulf Stream, Winslow Homer (1899)

Last year Ateneo de Manila Press published a book by my friend Simeon Dumdum, Jr, Ah, Wilderness! Jun, whose day-job is that of a Regional Trial Court judge in Cebu City is a distinguished poet and his prose reflects that.

The subtitle of Ah, Wilderness! is A Journey Through Sacred Time. The short essays, which I think first appeared in the Cebu Daily News, are reflections linked to the different seasons of the Church’s liturgical year. In his introduction the author writes, ‘I move in a sacred world because God fills every space. Every journey – because in the en it s return to God – is a journey through sacred time.’ (Jun is expressing something similar to the quote from my patron St Columban on the masthead of my blog: ‘Since we are travellers and pilgrims in the world, let us ever ponder on the end of the road, that is of our life, for the end of our roadway is our home’).

I happened to read Jun’s essay Gulf Stream this morning in which he reflects on a painting by American painter Winslow Homer, The Gulf Stream. He writes: ‘One can look at Winslow Homer’s painting as an allegory of faith. The fuming waves and hungry sharks represent evil, and the boat the raft of faith that, though the fits of doubt have broken its mast, keeps one safely afloat. The painting calls up a scene from Mark. There, while Jesus and the apostles were crossing the lake a squall arose, terrifying everyone, except Jesus who was sleeping at the back of the boat. They woke him up, complaining that he did not care that they were about to die. But Jesus soot up and commanded the wind and the waves to be still, and they obeyed, and Jesus chided the apostles for their lack of faith’.

Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jan Brueghel the Elder, c.1596

This story, from Mark 4:35-41, is the gospel for tomorrow, the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. Below is the RSV translation.

On that day, when evening had come, Jesus said to them, "Let us go across to the other side." And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care if we perish?" And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?" And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?"


Ma. Milagros said...

We, Jun and I, feel good and gratified, for including Jun's essay and giving it importance in your blog, Father Sean. He actually wrote a new version to that for this Sunday's CDN edition, using the sleeping Sto. Nino as trigger. To quote the last paragraph of the essay, "Perhaps the Sleeping Santo Nino deserves a second look. It does no more than remind, not of a divine pastime, but of the proper human attitude--trust. The God who appears to sleep is really an unsleeping God--as watchful as a parent is of an infant that is learning to walk, and coming to its aid only when necessary."

Fr Seán Coyle said...

Thanks, Gingging. I was trying to find the link to Jun's revised article. Maybe it's no online yet.

Fr Seán Coyle said...

'Not' online yet.

Ma. Milagros said...

Fr. Sean:

Jun's Sunday essays printed in Cebu Daily News are not usually found on line. I will send you a copy via email.