The Wind Hears His Voice

Thoughts on the Gospel
for the Third Saturday in Ordinary Time

He woke up,
rebuked the wind,
and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was great calm.

Mark 4:40

The Wind Hears His Voice

To generations educated to think of nature, the world that surrounds us, of which we are part, as a vast machine, some of whose workings are known, others, ever fewer in number, still to be mastered, the thought that Jesus commanded the wind to be still does not seem reasonable, or even possible; it seems part of a religious story, comforting to those disposed to believe but of no value in the great world of facts. After all, we know more and more about the climate; we know that it is responsive to no climatologist, but to certain laws, understood more and more completely day by day, and year by year. 

But what if  the measurable, empirical world over which science presides is but the convention of an Author, a complex set of interrelated actions and reactions, instantiated by an Author who wills that water run down hill, that e=mc2, that v always equals ½ gt2, that in the present arrangement of things the earth goes round the sun  in 364 ¼ days, and whose agent in causing and sustaining these conventions is his  Word.

This in any event is the claim of Christian theology,  which does not tell the story, or which touches only adventitiously,  the story of anything that can be weighed, measured, or found on either side of an equals sign. Theology is God’s story insofar as he tells it to us. It is the story of what happened before, above or beyond this measurable world, before time, and thus is the precondition of the conventional arrangement on which we rely.    

It is the claim of theology that at the moment of creation the Word or Son left the world of personal bliss in which He was born to constitute by his existence  the world that can be weighed and measured, a world whose consistency the Word guarantees. The great guarantor does not often override his rules, but the rules are his and he may  set them aside for his purpose. We call these events miraculous. When Jesus, the word made flesh, rebuked the wind, the wind was His; the personal reality on which the world rests broke through the conventions the same Word guarantees.

This happened at other times in the Gospel accounts, when the sick were healed, when Lazarus and the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11–15) were brought back to life.  It happens when in answer to prayers the sick are unaccountably healed.   

These things happen because the world we call nature is at every moment responsive beyond its conventional regularities not to the formula but to the Word. For the most part that action consists in sustaining the rough regularity upon which we depend but at any moment that order may be transcended by the one who made it.    

It is important to realize that the relation between the personal world, the land of the Blessed Trinity, and the world of nature is not a lever or a switch but the divine will that makes the existence of the Word Made Flesh the center of the created order. 

 He is the image of the invisible God. The first-born of all creatures. For in Him all things were created in Heaven and on earth, visible and invisible whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities, all things were  created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:15–16) 

He is the cosmos in the sense that he permeates the  existence of every creature in the system we call nature. It would be wrong to say that the Word is the wind, even wrong to say that He is in the wind. But it is by the reason and will of eternal Word that the wind blows.    

 And the wind knows its Master’s voice.

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