Fr Brian Broaders
There is a song for every occasion, a tune for every mood.
Just over fifty years ago Paul Simon, was feeling lonely and isolated in his New York apartment; his friend and musical partner Art Garfunkel was off making a movie. Feeling abandoned and a little down in himself, Paul Simon picked up his guitar and wrote ‘Bridge over troubled water’. It was like the melody just flowed through him, gospel inspired; music to bring calm and comfort to those in need.
“When you're weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes and friends just can’t be found
When darkness come and pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled waters,
I will lay me down, I will ease you mind”.
The album sold over 25 million copies and won 5 Grammy Awards. Back in 1970 the song ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ touched a nerve with a generation that was grappling with fear in the wake of the Vietnam war and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr and Robert Kennedy. After fifty years of singing it, Art Garfunkel says; “I love singing it, thank the Lord for the feeling - the goose bumps - check in - every time”. For Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel and for us listeners, this song continues to bring comfort and calm, it has all the stuff needed to dry our eyes and ease our minds; knowing that, ‘someone’ / Jesus is our bridge over troubled waters.
In today’s gospel we find Jesus and the disciples on troubled waters. They have set sail and Jesus, in the stern of the boat with his head on a cushion, is asleep. As Jesus sleeps, the disciples were probably trying to make sense of how earlier in the day he had described the Kingdom of God using the parables of the sower and the mustard seed! Suddenly a storm blows up and even this crew of experienced fishermen are frightened. There’s a sense of powerlessness as the winds of change blow and the boat could sink into the unknown. This is a turning point in St Mark’s Gospel. Up to this Jesus had describe the Kingdom of God using parables and healing. Now, with the calming of the rough sea, Jesus demonstrated that he is the ‘Son of God’ and as such is ‘Lord of sea and all created things’.
How does our first reading from the Book of Job connect with today’s gospel? This crew of disciples, would have been familiar with the story of that good and patient man Job. They would have learned of Job’s cries to God for answers: ‘why do people suffer and who is the cause of our disaster or misfortune’?. Today we hear the Lord’s answer to Job: Only God has power over the wind and sea. The stormy sea may represent the power of evil, but God’s Word has the final and ultimate say! It is the Lord who ‘marked’ the sea’s limits, “Come thus far, and no farther”
Psalm 106 takes up the theme with the verse:
They cried to the Lord in their need
and he rescued them from their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper:
all the waves of the sea were hushed. (Ps 106)
In a boat on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples eyes were opened and the words of psalm 106 became a reality. They are left asking one another, “who can this be” even the wind and sea obey him? For all who know the sacred scriptures - there can be only one answer. Jesus is the one, he will lay down his life, he is our bridge over troubled water.
The past year has brought and continues to bring ‘troubled water’ to so many. Our friends and family may be struggling; any one of us may be weary with darkness and pain all around. Like Job and the frightened disciples we too can cry out; ‘do you not care?’ Jesus said to the sea; “Quiet now, be calm”. We may not have all the answers, but with Jesus by our side, we can say to all who are frightened; be still, be calm, be kind to yourself, ask others to care for you.
Oh if you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.