Homily of St Bede the Venerable on Mark 6:47-56
The labours of the disciples at the oars with the winds against them prefigure the various labours of Holy Church. Amid the waves of an adverse world, amid the blasts of unclean spirits, she struggles to reach the peace of the heavenly fatherland, as to a safe anchorage on the shore. It is well said, “the ship was in the midst of the sea, and himself alone on the land,” because at times the Church is not only buffeted by many oppressions of the Gentiles, but she is wounded so that it would seem as if the Redeemer himself – if that were possible – had forsaken her utterly.
From among the waves and storms of adversity, furiously beating upon her and straitening her, there comes a cry, seeking with piteous entreaty the aid of his protection: “Why, O Lord, have you retired afar off, why do you slight us in our wants, in time of trouble? At the same time she tells him the counsels of the enemy that follow her, crying in the words of the Psalm: “For he has said in his heart: ‘God has forgotten, he has turned away his face not to see the end.'”
God does not forget the prayer of the poor, nor does he turn his face from those who trust in him. On the contrary, he brings aid to those who are struggling with their enemies that they may conquer, and such as are victorious he crowns for all eternity. Therefore, it is said plainly, “And seeing them labouring in rowing.” And why should the Lord not see them toiling in the sea, even though he stood alone upon the land? If he seemed to defer the hour of aid in tribulation, none the less he made them strong in the refuge of his love, lest they should faint in their trials. Sometimes by his manifest aid, he overcomes their trials, and sets them free, even as he did when he walked upon the waves and stilled their tumult.
– Homily of St Bede, Book 2, Ch. 28 on Ch.6 of Mark, Vol.4; from: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964