By Deacon Jerry Franzen Cathedral June 21, 2015
Job 38:1, 8-11 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 Mark 4:35-41
*Why did Jesus, who is God, and therefore all-powerful,
allow himself to fall asleep just when things
were getting really tough, really scary, for his followers?
Why is an all-powerful God
not immediately present to us as we need His assistance,
why is He not right there with a helping hand;
that is a question that we all have to face sooner or later.
Maybe we won't be a on a boat during a storm
that threatens to sink us,
but each one of us will run up against
some kind of storm before we die.
In fact, in this fallen world,
it is safe to say that the storm is the norm.
It may be the long and painful sickness of a loved one,
the death of a beloved child,
damage caused by a family member's addictions or infidelities,
the ravages of war,
a debilitating natural disaster,
or maybe just intense, heart-sickening loneliness.
Why does an all-powerful God go to sleep in our boats
and let these storms rage against us?
The Catechism tells us clearly that we will not understand God's ways fully until we meet him face to face on the other side of death.
The Catechism in #324 states the following:
The fact that God permits physical and even moral evi l
is a mystery that God illuminates by his Son Jesus Christ
who died and rose to vanquish evil.
Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit an evil,
if he did not cause a good to come from that very evil,
by ways that we shall fully know only in eternal life.
It says that we can’t now know God’s ways fully,
but we can understand God's ways partially,
if we understand God's agenda for our lives.
We must understand that God's agenda
for our brief journey her on earth is not
perfect comfort and unbroken pleasure.
Rather, he wants us to achieve the wisdom, courage, joy,
and inner balance of spiritual maturity.
In other words, he wants us to get in shape for heaven.
And that involves learning to trust in him
more than in ourselves, learning that we are not all-powerful.
That's hard to learn,
because it goes directly against the earthly tendencies
we have all inherited from original sin.
And so, sometimes,
God goes to sleep in our boats and lets the storm rage,
so that we will come to know and accept
the reality of our limitations
and the truth of our dependence on him.
To fully grasp the awesome power
that Christ displays in this Gospel scene,
we need to look a little deeper, to use our imagination.
Few situations leave men so helpless and despairing as storms at sea.
Although the Sea of Galilee is just a lake
it is well known for the violence of its squalls,
which arise and subside rapidly and unpredictably
due to its peculiar geographical situation.
It is located at the mouth of a long funnel
created by rows of mountains to the north.
Air travels through the narrowing valley
onto the sea with explosive force.
In the midst of these gales,
the power of nature is unleashed in terrifying violence,
and human fraility is nakedly exposed.
St. Mark makes it quite clear that the disciples,
many of whom were fishermen by trade
and familiar with boats and sea storms,
feared for their lives.
So we can safely infer that this storm was no minor agitation.
That a mere word from the Lord reins in nature's primeval brawn shocked the helpless fishermen even more
than the stormy sea had frightened them
just moments before.
They had seen the Lord's miracles,
they had heard his wisdom,
they had witnessed his power over the human heart.
But to see the most unruly powers
that flow through the bowels of the universe submit,
like a well-trained golden retriever –
this was a lordship they had not yet even conceived of;
this is the lordship of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We should be encouraged by this reminder that our God,
our eternal Father who loves us
and is always watching over us, is all-powerful.
And today when we pray the Creed, let's relish those words,
praying them right from the heart:
"We believe in one God, the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth..."
But how can we apply this beautiful and encouraging truth
to our daily lives?
St Ignatius of Loyola, the sixteenth-century knight turned priest
who founded the Jesuits,
has a good piece of advice in this regard.
You may have heard this.
St. Ignatius would say that a true Christian
should "pray as if everything depended upon God,
but work as if everything depended upon himself
This sounds like a contradiction, but it isn't.
When life's storms batter us, our families, and our communities,
our first reaction should always be the same
as the reaction of the Apostles in today's Gospel:
to go to Jesus, to wake him up if we think that we must,
to place our confidence in him,
through sincere, heart-to-heart prayer.
He wants us to bring our situation to Him, put it in His hands.
He is always ready to help.
He will hear us, because he is always listening.
And then, having put the situation in God's hands,
the best way to show him that we truly trust him
is to confidently do whatever we can to help achieve
the outcome we think is best
- whatever next step occurs to us.
A pitcher who trusts in his catcher
knows that the catcher calls for certain pitches
in certain locations
and he follows the catcher’s directions.
In a way, God is our catcher and we must follow His directions.
He has chosen to build his Kingdom in this world
through our cooperation in doing what he calls of us.
**The playwright Arthur Miller
was married to the movie star Marilyn Monroe
when she was making the movie, the Misfits.
In his autobiography Arthur describes how
she had descended into depression and despair
and how he watched
as she became quite dependent on drugs.
after the doctor had given her a shot and she was asleep,
Arthur stood hopelessly watching her.
He thought “I found myself straining to imagine miracles.
What if she were to awake and I were able to say,
God loves you, darling,’ and she were able to believe it!
How I wish I had my religion back and she hers.”
It is all about our faith in God’s love for each of us.
He is not asleep, He is not disinterested in us.
Today, as God renews his commitment to us in this Mass,
let's renew our confidence in him,
by promising to use, with gusto,
all of the gifts he has given to each of us.
*Content in this homily taken from: http://www.epriest.com/homily_packs/build/135
“The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time”
** Story taken from “A World of Stories for Preachers and Teachers” by William J. Bausch, Twenty-Third Publications, Mystic, CT #228 p 338