12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B
Job 38: 1, 8-11 + Psalm 107 23-26 + 2 Corinthians 5: 14-17 + Mark 4: 35-41
Holy Spirit Catholic Church: Sunday, June 20, 2021
Storms on the Sea of Galilee happen suddenly, swiftly, and destructively.
One minute it is calm and the next a violent squall whips across the water.
Peter, Andrew, James, and John are fishermen—they know how dangerous
storms on the Sea of Galilee can be.
But even though they are veterans of such sudden storms, they are still fearful.
A storm on the firmness of land is one thing—a storm on water is another.
One can sink, one can drown in a storm on the sea.
Plus, one does not know what monsters lurk beneath the murky waters—
those dangers that cannot be seen, that live in the watery depths.
But for Jesus, there is a bigger disaster than the storm at sea, a greater danger.
That is the disciples lack of faith—they have not yet placed their trust in him.
This is the bigger concern for Jesus—that the waters of fear
have swamped the hearts of his followers, so that their trust in him is drowning.
Remember the parables Jesus taught his disciples before this storm
which revealed that trust was one of the qualities of a person who wanted
to be good soil, receptive to the word of God.
Like a storm on the Sea of Galilee, storms can appear out of nowhere in our lives.
or in the lives of loved ones, with no warning at all.
One minute life is calm, and the next minute are lifeboat is being battered
by the waves of fear.
All it takes is a few words. “You have cancer.”
“Your son has been in an accident.”
“Your husband has Parkinson’s.”
Then fear starts to drown any trust we have in the Lord.
We cry out in our despair to the Lord Jesus,
“Do you not care that we are perishing?” “Do you not care?”
The response from the One who wants to teach us about trust, who wants to teach us how to grow in faith: “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”
The storm of sickness, whether our own illness or that of a loved one,
has a way of testing our faith, of making us feel abandoned by God,
or at the very least as if God is asleep.
The watery waves of fear pour into our boat, and we feel like we are sinking.
However, especially during stormy times of illness,
the Lord Jesus is with us, in the boat with us.
He does care about our bodily sickness, but his greatest concern
is our relationship to him—can we allow our trust in his saving power to grow during the violent squalls that strike our life?
He says: Quiet! Be Still! Listen—I am with you.
When we pour out our heart to him,
when we tell Him about the fear rocking our boat,
then He can pour into our lives the gift of His peace—
a quiet stillness that is so real, so powerful, so life-giving.
From the very beginning of the Church in the first century, the boat was an image of the Church, of the Christian community, tossed about by the challenges of life.
But remember—it is a boat that holds other members
of the Christian community—we are never alone.
That is one of the reasons why the Church exists, so we might know
that Christ is with us through others.
We know this is a most concrete way
in and through the presence of others with us in the storms of life.
We know this in a powerful way through their prayers.
Yesterday I saw a bumper sticker on a car which said: “Nature is my Church.”
Now, for me personally, I encounter God’s presence
and the beauty of God’s creation in nature.
But nature cannot replace the great gift of being united to other people of faith,
of being strengthened by the loving presence and prayers of others on this journey.
We find strength in this knowledge that we are not alone
and thus courage to face the storm head-on.
Slowly but surely a transformation takes place,
from the “old” creation of a fear-dominated life
to the “new” creation of a life marked by a deepening trust in the Lord.
Every storm that strikes our lives is an opportunity to grow in faith.
Now that may not be our initial reaction.
In fact, when storms strike, fear may be that which rises in our hearts first.
But as we go through life, we begin to understand that
storms are simply a part of life.
So, we do not pray that these storms will not strike our boat,
but rather that we will have the ability to grow in trust of the Lord when they do.
Then we can sing with the psalmist:
“Let us thank the Lord for his love, for the wonders he does.
For when we cried to the Lord in our distress, he rescued us.”
We cry out to the one who keeps on patiently teaching us
about the power of God’s love in our life,
This power is greater than any storm, even the storm of death itself.
Fr. Joseph A. Jacobi