[12th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B June 21, 2015 / Job 38:1, 8-11, Ps 107:23-24, 25-26, 28-29, 30-31 / 2 Cor 5:14-17 / Mark 4:35-41]
GOD speaks to Job from the heart of the tempest. This is good news for all believers because God not only speaks in the silence but also from the middle of life’s storms. We see this clearly in the Gospel of today (Mark 4:35-41). In the middle of the storm, the disciples fear for their lives while Jesus is sleeping “in the back of the boat with his head on a cushion!”
St Thérèse of Lisieux frequently referred to her soul as the little boat in which the child Jesus often slept. She desired to enter the convent of Carmel at only 15 years old. She had to ask special permission from Pope Leo XIII because she was too young. Her desire to enter the convent she compares to a journey in a boat. At times she experienced trials and difficulties and the little boat of her soul battled in the middle of the storms. In other moments her little boat was pushed along by a light breeze and made great progress. In all moments she lived with the awareness of Jesus being present in her little boat.
How wonderful to live life’s situations including the storms with the Lord of heaven and earth in our boat. Traveling with the Creator of the seas and Lord of the wind and rain we would enjoy the journey more! And when the tempests come we could endure them calling on the Lord to take over the helm of our ship. Like today’s psalm (Psalm 106) “they cried out 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.”
St John Chrysostom before he was unjustly exiled in the fourth century wrote about peace in the middle of life’s storms, “I do not fear for I hold on to His written word. This is my staff, this is my courage, this is to me a calm harbor. Even if the world be troubled, I hold that written word; I look up to those words, they are a wall of strength to me. What are they? I am with you always until the consummation of the world. Christ is with me, what shall I fear? If waves are raging against me, and the fountains of the deep and the passions of princes, all these things are more insignificant than a cobweb.”
Challenges are part of life and help us to grow. A snake cannot grow if it does not shed its skin. We need to leave the old behind and pass to the new. It is a death and rebirth. “Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation; the old creation has gone, and now the new one is here” (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is a metamorphosis, a change. This presents itself in various ways –when we begin a new task, take on a new responsibility, leave behind something and start something new.
When I began teaching in some universities here in Manila I had many questions and experienced some choppy waves and gusty winds. How to best teach the material? How to prepare classes in the middle of a busy schedule? Jesus invites us in and through life events to cross to the other side, just like he proposed to his disciples in today’s Gospel. Not only to cross to the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee but at the same time to cross over to faith in him. On this journey trials and storms are encountered as we cross from self-reliance to reliance on Jesus, as we pass from trusting in ourselves (which often results in making us very anxious people as we try to control everything!) to disciples who entrust their lives and their schedule to Christ.
The challenges will come but they can be lived differently with Jesus in our boat. Listening to him in the middle of the storm only God can calm those waves of fear and anxiety with his powerful words “Be still! Be calm!”
How beautiful to listen to those words in the heat of the battle. When the disciples listened to those words in the middle of the storm “the wind dropped and all was calm again.” Jesus then said to them “Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?”
Lord, increase our faith in you and your ways. Let us boldly take up the challenge to “cross to the other side.”
What is this other side that Jesus is inviting you to at this moment in your life? Surely we will reach this destination if we remember that Jesus is in our boat with us.