Sunday, June 23, 2024

12th Sunday of Ordinary Time: Jesus Calms the Storm

The 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time in the liturgical year B offers a profound opportunity for reflection and spiritual growth. The readings selected for this day invite the faithful to contemplate the majesty of God's creation, the depth of Christ's love, and the transformative power of faith.

The first reading from the Book of Job (Job 38:1, 8-11) presents a humbling dialogue where God addresses Job out of the storm. This passage reminds us of the limits of human understanding and the boundless wisdom of the Creator who commands even the seas and the winds. It is a call to trust in God's omnipotence and to find peace in the acknowledgment of our own limitations.

The Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 107) echoes this theme of God's dominion over nature. It speaks of those who have seen the works of the Lord and His wonders in the abyss. The psalmist invites us to give thanks to the Lord for His everlasting love, especially when He rescues us from distress and brings calm to our storms.

In the second reading, St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor 5:14-17) explores the compelling love of Christ. Paul emphasizes that Christ's death and resurrection were for all, urging us to live not for ourselves but for Him. This passage challenges us to view our lives and others through the lens of our faith in Christ, recognizing that in Him, we are a new creation.

The Gospel of Mark (Mk 4:35-41) narrates the familiar story of Jesus calming the storm. This powerful account not only displays Jesus' authority over nature but also addresses the disciples' fear and lack of faith. Jesus' question, "Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?" resonates with us as we face our own storms in life. It invites us to reflect on the strength of our faith and our trust in God's providential care.

These readings collectively offer a rich tapestry of themes for reflection: the awe-inspiring power of God, the redemptive love of Christ, and the call to a faith that overcomes fear. They encourage us to look beyond our immediate circumstances and to trust in the God who stills the waves and guides us to safe harbor.  

Deepening one's faith is a personal and ongoing journey that can be enriched through various practices and disciplines. Here are some practical ways to strengthen your faith:

1. Develop a Consistent Prayer Routine: Prayer is the cornerstone of a strong faith. Setting aside dedicated time for prayer each day helps to maintain a connection with the divine and fosters spiritual growth. Without prayer, a Catholic cannot thrive.  Prayer is the respiration of the human soul and spirit. 

2. Engage with Sacred Texts: Regular reading and study of sacred texts provide deeper understanding and connection. It's not just about reading but also about reflecting on the words and applying them to your life. The Sacred Scripture is the education and mental, spiritual, and psychological food a Catholic soul needs to learn and grow as a Christian. 

3. Participate in Community Worship: Attending Mass and becoming involved in your faith community can offer support and deepen your sense of belonging and belief.  The Church is a community. It is not about the individual only, but the entire Body of Christ.  The Eucharist is the summit of this community. In the Eucharist, we have Jesus truly present who presents Himself as Sacred Food to nourish the body, soul, and spirit

4. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation: These practices can help you become more aware of the divine presence in every moment and cultivate a sense of peace and centeredness.

5. Serve Others: Acts of service are a practical expression of faith. By helping those in need, you can embody the principles of your beliefs and experience the joy of giving. Remember that Jesus is present in others, especially the least of our brothers and sisters. 

6. Seek Fellowship: Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals can provide encouragement and accountability. Sharing experiences and insights with others can reinforce your faith journey.

7. Embrace Trials as Opportunities: Challenges in life can be seen as opportunities for growth. Trusting in your faith during difficult times can strengthen your resolve and deepen your trust in the divine.

8. Express Gratitude: Cultivating an attitude of gratitude can shift your focus from what you lack to the abundance you have. Recognizing and appreciating the blessings in life can enhance your spiritual perspective.

9. Set Spiritual Goals: Just like any other area of life, setting goals for your spiritual practices can provide direction and motivation. These could include reading a certain number of sacred texts, volunteering a set amount of time, or mastering a particular form of meditation.

10. Attend Retreats or Workshops: These can be powerful ways to focus on your faith, free from the distractions of daily life. They often provide new insights and practices that can invigorate your spiritual journey.

11. Journaling: Keeping a journal of your prayers, thoughts, and spiritual experiences can serve as a tangible record of your faith journey. It can be a source of encouragement and a tool for reflection.

12. Practice Forgiveness: Forgiveness is a powerful act that can release you from past burdens and open your heart to deeper faith.

13. Cultivate Patience: Faith often requires patience, as answers or signs may not come immediately. Learning to wait with a trusting heart is a sign of a maturing faith.

14. Learn from Faith Leaders: Reading books, listening to talks, or attending lectures by respected faith leaders can inspire and inform your spiritual path.

15. Stay Open to Learning: Recognize that your understanding of faith will evolve over time. Stay open to new interpretations and understandings as you grow.

Remember, deepening your faith is a unique process for each individual. It's important to find practices that resonate with you and integrate them into your daily life.  Do not take on too much. Some Catholics want to do everything pray everything and wear everything in regard to sacramentals.  This does the opposite with our faith. Our faith becomes mechanical and based on rituals instead of its true essence, Jesus Christ. 

Jesus is the sole reason we exist and have our being. He is the sole reason we have the Catholic Church, the Sacraments, the Bible, and, so on.  The life we live in often makes it hard for us to have faith and to thrive in it. There are many challenges. Life itself is not the cause nor is it bad. Life is good! However, original sin has tarnished the things in life making it often unbearable. There will be storms.  Storms have their natural purpose of watering the earth, moving old materials (fallen branches, leaves, and so on), cooling the temperature, moving ozone, and overall maintenance of nature. However, they can be scary and can cause harm due to man's construction. 

The storm in the Gospel refers to both a historical event and a metaphorical one.  By metaphorical, we mean that in our lives we often have "storms" that rock our boats, so to speak. They bring us a lot of suffering, stress and anxiety. In many instances, they may force us to question our faith. This is normal. We have a thing we have to suffer in this life.  Recently, my sister was called home by the heavenly Father. She was battling cancer but passed from natural causes.  We were left distraught. She has so much to live for, especially her two beautiful children, one who is autistic. These two children also lost their dad in 2021 so they are now basically orphans.  

It is painful to even write this, but this is the reality now. It is a huge storm my family and I are facing. However, we know Jesus calms the storm. We cannot see what will happen nor can anticipate it but know Jesus is in control. Death affects our faith often enough. We wonder what happened.  We prayed and prayed. Why did a healing not occur? Why do others get better but not her?  We cannot answer this because we are still on earth on a different plane of existence and perception. However, we have faith that God has a plan. He had a bigger purpose.  Jesus calms the storm. He will calm the storms in your life as well. He will not let you be tossed about by the winds, nor drenched in the rain. If the storm knocks you overboard, He will not let you float or drown in the dark rowdy waters. 

As we participate in the Mass and listen to these readings, we are invited to deepen our relationship with God, renew our commitment to live in Christ, and strengthen our faith in the face of life's challenges. Let us embrace the message of hope and trust that these readings convey, carrying it with us into the week ahead and beyond.  

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