Sunday, June 21, 2015

12th Sunday of Ordinary time - God Sleeps During The Storm

The Holy Father's second encyclical "Laudato Si" was just released which deals mainly with climate change. Today's readings also deal with climate, but not in an ecological sense.

In the first reading, we read of God addressing Job reminding him who is the boss, so to speak. The readings tell us that God is in control. Today's first reading skips a few verses where God asks Job if he were there when the foundation of the earth was laid and if he has understanding of it all (Job 38:4-5).  He made the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1, Nehemiah 9:6, Isaiah 37:16, Isaiah 45:18, Psalms 8:3-8).  God was the one who set the limits in the universe (Jeremiah 31:35, Psalm 148:6). Therefore, He has full power over them (Romans 9:1).  This is a call to faith. We must trust God always (2 Samuel 22:3, Psalm 7:1). As we trust in God, we must give thanks for His love which never ends as we read in the responsorial Psalm.

The responsorial Psalm recalls how sailors traveling on the seas noticed the "works of the Lord."  He commands the storms and the waves (Job 5:10). Man in his timid spirit feels insignificant before storms. He cries out to God in panic.  God then calms the storm showing His kindness.  This Psalm is a foreshadowing of today's Gospel. It should remind us that we should give ourselves to God and trust in Him as we read in the second reading.

In the second reading, Paul reminds us that we have all died in Christ.  We no longer live for ourselves but for He who died for us on the Cross (Galatians 2:20).  Because of this, we must look at ourselves as a "new creation."  The old has passed away and now the new is coming into fruition. This is what true repentance is. When we are baptized and receive the other Sacraments, we must turn away from our old selves.  The Sacraments are not "graduation" ceremonies that we follow through with as if they were part of some coming of age social script.  Rather, the Sacraments are the means from which we become this new creation in Christ Jesus.  We trust in Him even when the storms of the world come as we read in the Gospel today.

The Gospel tells us that Jesus wanted to cross the other side of the Sea of Galilee. So.. just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a faithful God. Who fell asleep inside a boat as it went across the big pond.  The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed, the disciples starting panicking, fearing they would sink or get lost. They went to Jesus as He slept and woke him up asking Him if He cared that they are going to perish.  He got up and told the wind and the seas to calm and be still (New York translation: shut up and cut it out!). The storm with its wind and strong waves calmed down.  Then Jesus asks them, "do you not yet have faith?"  They were left there in awe wondering who this guy named Jesus was.

This reading can be used in so many ways to reflect upon. We see how the Gospel is connected to the first reading and Psalm in regards to stormy weather and God's power over His creation.  Then we see the importance of having faith in God.  Jesus asks the disciples, "do you not yet have faith?" He does this because they were panicking as the storm came in. They still did not understand who Jesus was and what He was about. We too, many times believe we understand God, but we do not. How many times do we pray and God does not answer?  We then begin to doubt or panic.

Many atheists use this as an argument that God does not exist; they say 'If God were real, why doesn't he respond to prayers?'  We often ask after a big tragedy, 'where was God?' Today's readings touches on this. God is "asleep" in a boat. He seems nonchalant about a storm surrounding the boat about to sink it.  The disciples are panicking and terrified.  This is because they did not have faith. They did not realize they had God in the midst, the creator of the universe!  This is why when we pray to God and nothing happens, we must continue to trust in God (Proverbs 3:5-6).  He may be "sleeping" in the boat waiting to be woken up by our prayers, repentance and commitment to faith.  This "boat" is the Church traveling to the "other side."  On the way, it faces storms which try to sink it.  However, Jesus is there with the boat and protects it always even when the passengers on the boat may doubt.  May Jesus Christ be praised!


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