23 June , 2024 - 12th ordinary sunday "B

Job 38, 1. 8-11; 2 Cor 5, 14-17; Mk 4, 35-41


            On the seventh day of creation, God rested. Having created a universe of lightning and thunder, storms and hurricanes, volcanoes and earthquakes over the previous six days, God rested quietly because, as he explained to Job in the text we heard as the first reading, he had set limits that these powers of nature could not cross.

            The disciples - at least some of them - were sailors by trade. Their mistake, in today's Gospel, was that they didn't want to take responsibility for controlling their boat in the storm. They had no control over the forces of nature, but they did have control over their boat. Jesus slept, after an exhausting day of preaching, because he had confidence in his disciples, who were experienced fishermen and no strangers to storms on the capricious Lake of Galilee. He let them do their work. After all, he was a carpenter, not a sailor. The disciples knew better than he what to do in such circumstances. He also knew that, while they were looking after their boat, someone else was looking after the winds and the sea. That someone else was his Father. And it was in his name that, after being awakened by the disciples, he shouted to the winds and the sea to calm down.

            It is interesting to note that this story comes, in Mark's Gospel, immediately after the parables of the seed and the mustard seed. There can be no growth without some form of storm. In today's Gospel, the storm broke after Jesus and his disciples decided to "cross over to the other side...". Most of the crossings to the other shore in our lives are also shaken by storms. We must steer our boat as best we can. We are responsible for our boat; we are not responsible for the elements. The lack of faith that Jesus reproached his disciples for was first of all a lack of faith in themselves, before it was a lack of faith in the revealed truth that God had set limits and barriers to the storm. Within those limits, they had what they needed to steer their boat, and it was their responsibility to do so.

            In our lives, it's not unusual for us to be caught in a storm. Often we become discouraged and fearful. We refuse to take responsibility and ask God to come and do our work for us. Or we try to control the situation itself; that is, we try to control the storm - which is not our job, and which we do disastrously. We are trying to wake up Jesus who is sleeping peacefully, trusting in us and teaching us to trust in ourselves and in the power He has given us.

            In our stormy nights, the truth that can always reassure us is that God is in control of the elements around us, even when they seem completely out of control; and that Jesus is with us in our boat, even when He is asleep and the boat seems to be sinking.

            Our faith in Him and our faith in ourselves are equally important. In the end, they are the same reality, since our deepest Self is our configuration to Christ, who is the fullness of the Self.