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Calming the Storms of Life! (12th Sunday of Ordinary Time)


Fr. T J. Puliyan, MSFS

The Mississippi River was flooding its banks, and the waters were rising swiftly around Dorothy’s house.  The waters had gotten to the level of the front porch where Dorothy was standing when a man in a rowboat came by and called to Dorothy, “Hop in and I’ll take you to high ground.” 

Dorothy replied, “No, Jesus who calmed the storm in the sea will save me from flood waters!”  The river continued to rise to the second-story and Dorothy, looking out, saw a powerboat come up.  The man in the powerboat called Dorothy, “Hop in and I’ll take you to high ground.”

 She replied, “No, my Jesus will save me!”  The river had now risen to the roof of the house. Dorothy was sitting on thetop of the house with the waters coming around her feet. She saw a helicopter flyover, and the people inside yelled over a bull horn, “Grab the rope and climb in, and we’ll take you to high ground.”

 Dorothy replied, “No, Jesus will save me!”  The river continued to rise, finally, the floodwaters engulfed the house, and Dorothy was drowned.  The next thing Dorothy knew, she was standing before Jesus.  In anger, she asked Jesus, “I put my trust in You.  Why have you forsaken me?”  And to her, Jesus replied, “What else more do you want me to do for you?  I sent you a rowboat, a powerboat, and a helicopter!”.

The first reading is taken from the Book of Job (38:1,8-11),which was probably written by a Jewish sage sometime around the time of the Exile.  It addresses the problem of human suffering but does not solve it.  The book is a kind of folktale and the central character, Job, represents a good person who had to deal with the agony of undeserved suffering. 

In this reading, we hear how the Lord spoke to Job whose life was devastated by storms of the total loss of his possessions, the deaths of his dear ones, and a whole-body disease that left him in misery. The intervention of God in his life led Job into a deeper experience of the mystery of God. It teaches the lesson that God has plans and purposes which mortal men cannot grasp.  

 In the second reading, St. Paul, who “rode the storm” of rejection by his former friends, experienced storms of violent hostility from the Jews who refused to believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah. He explains that Jesus died for us to make us a “new creation” and to receive this gift of love, we have to respond, by living for Jesus in all situations of our lives as Jesus himself had gone before us through the uncharted sea of life.

The Gospel, according to Mark (4:35-41) emphasizes Jesus’ wondrous works to reveal Jesus’ true Messianic identity. This miracle took place in a context when Jesus was traveling with his disciple to the other side of the Sea of Galilee after a long day, by teaching and instructing the crowd.

 They wanted to begin the ministry on the other side of the lake the next day. The Sea of Galilee is a lake, thirteen miles long from north to south and eight miles broad from east to west and it is notorious for its sudden storms.  In the miracle story, Jesus’ triumph over the negative forces verifies His true identity as the Messiah. Mark’s primary audience in Rome in the A.D 60s felt that they were forced into persecution by Emperor Nero during which probably both Peter and Paul were martyred.

By describing this miracle, Mark also assures the first-century believers that nothing can harm the Church as long as the Risen Lord is with them. Mark presents Jesus as one who is in control of the forces of chaos, and hence able to calm the storms which threaten to overturn the community of the Church.

Several Fathers of the Church consider this miracle story as an allegory of the early Church.  The boat in the stormy lake is a symbol of the Church that faced challenges and heresies from inside and outside. The early Church faced persecution in the first three centuries, followed by a calm period, then a period with heresies, culminating in the Protestant Reformation Movement and then-recent scandals.  The faithful in such situations wondered if Jesus had deserted the Church.

However, dear brothers and sisters, we need to remember that Jesus is always with us in the boat of our life. All of us are making our journey across the sea of time to the shore of eternity.  Hence, it is natural that, occasionally, we all experience different types of violent storms in our lives, physical storms, emotional storms, and spiritual storms.  We face storms of sorrow, doubt, anxiety, worry, temptation, and passion. 

The storms we encounter in life are often what make us or break us.  These storms can either bring us closer to God and one another or alienate us from God and others.  It is only Jesus who can calm these storms for us.  Jesus can give us real peace in the storm of sorrow.When the storms of doubt seek to uproot the very foundations of our Faith, He can still be there to calm that storm, by revealing His Divinity and the authority. 

Jesus gives us peace in the tempest of doubt, tension, and uncertainty, provided we humbly submit to Jesus’ guidance. The miracle story reminds us that Jesus who is resting in our life’s boat is always ready to help us in the storms of life when we ask.   Our fathers are called to be true reflections of Jesus the leader who has to calm the storm of daily lives at home and lead our families to move forward. Happy Father’s Day!

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