Sunday, June 20, 2021

12th Sunday of Ordinary time - God Sleeps

The Holy Father's second encyclical "Laudato Si" was just released six years ago 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 an 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 touch 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 that try to sink it.  However, Jesus is there with the boat and protects it always even when the passengers on the boat may doubt.  This is especially true today during the pandemic of the covid-19 coronavirus which has affected us all in many ways.  God may seem gone or never having existed. This is not so. We are beings in the physical realm and must deal with the things of nature, viruses and sickness included.  Despite the hardships, we must trust God.  The world keeps getting worse and worse. We see on televisions mass shootings beginning again, global conflicts around the world, and the rise of crime in big cities like New York where not even kids are safe from gunshots.  It seems hopeless, but God is still here.  

Three years ago a young Dominican boy of only 15 years of age was attacked and stabbed to death by youths much other than him bearing machetes and knives.  He was left for dead all over mistaken identity.  His name is Lesandro Guzman-Feliz also affectionately called Junior by family and friends.  I had the honor of attending his wake and funeral Mass in 2018 and befriended the family. I recall seeing his body in the casket. He was a small young slim boy.  Seeing his body there made me both sad and angry.  How can this be?  This boy should be out there having fun, playing sports, Nintendo, Xbox, or Playstation.  He should be going to school and planning his life. He should be dating girls and learning how to be a man to them.  A casket in a funeral home should never be the place for a child.  Unfortunately, this was the case for young Junior.  If I felt this, imagine what his own parents felt, especially his mother.  Mothers are especially close to their boys.  His mother could have become an atheist. She could have gotten so angry that God let this happen.  However, she did not.  Leandra kept her faith. In fact, she credits her faith for not going mad or caving into despair and thoughts of revenge. It is not easy to lose a child.  As the cliche goes, children must bury their parents and not the other way around.  Leandra knows that God is sleeping, but not aloof.  God knows what is going on and everything happens for a reason which we may not understand now or may never understand until we meet Him face to face, so to speak.  Leandra knows that her son did not disappear into nothingness.  His immortal souls live on.  She knows that she will see him again at the resurrection of the dead.  We must be like this and live in full trust of God even when things seem hopeless.  Remember, God sleeps, yes, but He is not indifferent or aloof to you.  May Jesus Christ be praised!

Readings: Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time | USCCB

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