The story of Jesus walking over the storm-thrown waves is actually a parable that tells us Jesus will come to meet us at the moment of our deaths.
For properly understanding this story we must see that for the Apostles the so-called Sea of Galilee was actually a wide place in the Jordan River, and for them the Jordan would always stand for the barrier of death between them and the Promised Land.
Among the old stories cherished by the Jewish people there was none as dear to them as the one recorded in Chapter Three of the Book of Joshua. It tells of how when their forty years of wandering were past, and the Israelites were set to pass over into the Promised Land, they found the Jordan to be in flood with spring’s melted snows from Lebanon.
Joshua ordered the eight priests carrying the Arc on a litter to take a stand on the bank of the flooded Jordan. And he ordered thirty thousand-odd Israelites to form four abreast in a column behind the Arc, and stretching back out of sight.
At Joshua’s command, the priests carrying the Arc marched into the flood, and the waters backed up, making way for the Arc and the people following. When the priests with the Arc reached the bottom of the riverbed, they took their stand there, allowing the column of people to proceed past them up on to the shore of the Promised Land.
I always imagine that when we pass through the river of death the way will be held open for us not by the Arc of the Covenant, but by Jesus on the cross.
For today’s Gospel St. Mark told us that the Apostles in the boat called out that Jesus was a ghost. That detail was Mark’s trick for telling us that this is a story about our passing through death, the time and the place where ghosts roam.