12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I Job 38:1, 8-11
Psalm 107, 22-31
Reading II 2 Corinthians
Gospel Mark 4:35-41
On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples: “Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even the wind and sea obey?”
“ ‘Why are you and I so terrified? Do you not have faith? Quiet. Be still.’ And the wind ceased and there was great calm.”
Why do things get us so upset and we ask, “God, where are you?” And God answers, “Let me turn that around. I know who I am, and I know where I am. But what I want to know is, “Where are you? Why are you so frightened about things?”
We all have our chaos. When I was in college I was a counselor at a camp for six weeks. The campers would come on a Sunday, be there a week, and then go home on Saturday morning. Then Sunday a new crop would come in, so we had an alternating group of students all summer.
We would have Saturday afternoons to ourselves. On this Saturday some other counselors and I had some free time, there was a sailboat at the camp, and we decided we wanted to sail. So we went to the library and got a book about sailing, read it, and thought we could manage the sailboat.
We got into the boat and started out. It was a gorgeous day. We were sailing across the lake and everything was fine until all of a sudden a storm came up. We were swaying back and forth in the wind, there was no book to read, nor anybody around who knew what to do. These huge waves would come up and hit the boat and we would go way down in the water.
That went on for quite awhile and we decided we better bring the sails down, so we did that. Later things began to quiet down and the storm let up and things were not as bad.When the storm ended we were still in the middle of the lake not knowing how we were going to get back to shore. It was one of the longest afternoons of our lives. We took turns rowing and finally got back to shore where there was a certain relief and calm. Were we scared? Yes. If we were going to go, we were all going to go together. That’s just an experience about chaos on the water.
Jesus takes us a little deeper than that. When you look at your life, what really is chaos when it comes to touching our faith? I am not talking about fixing our burdens and we don’t know what to do. That can all be remedied very quickly. But real chaos comes when we wonder, “Is there a God in my life?”
We often use the expression, “I had one of those weeks when everything went wrong.” Don’t tell me what went wrong. The question is, and I just want to know, did you know at the end of the week that God was with you in the midst of it all? And how did you respond?
We just witnessed the other night in Charleston when a young man went to pray in a church with a group and turned around and killed the people he had just prayed with.Talk about chaos, that’s chaos. We usually think we are safe in God’s house. So God is asking the people of Charleston, and is asking the whole world, “Do you know who I am?”
What brings someone to give tragedy and how to we respond, and how does God respond? In God’s whole mission of everything — these things happen. And as these things keep happening we may not even know the people that create the chaos in our lives and it hits hard. God says, “I will always bring good out of everything.”
So we have to ask the young man who shot all the people in the Charleston church: Where is your God? Have you lost touch with the one who has created you because anyone who is with God simply will not destroy God’s creation.
So today I want you to think about when you had chaos in your life. I don’t mean when you went to the store and you forgot something and wondered what you needed for a recipe. I’m talking about things in your life. Something that really touched you in your life and you thought, “Wow. I don’t know why God is letting this happen to me.”
Jesus walks on water. He calms the waves. And what he is saying to us is, “There is nothing stronger than I am. Nothing. I can take all he chaos in the world and I can bring peace. But I can only bring peace when someone calls for me — someone who needs peace.”
When we baptize Blaze in a few minutes, he is going to be baptized in the turbulence of water. And the world is full of chaos right now but this child will always have the strength of faith, and a world of love.
Jesus says, “Just hang on to me. He said to us in the sailboat, “Just calm down and I’ll get you back.” That’s what you and I call faith. If we didn’t have chaos in our lives day by day, our faith could be trivial . But because we have faith we are children and men and women of strong faith — stronger than we realize.
We never know what we can cope with until God puts a test in our lives. And then in the midst of all of that, he would simply say, “I want you to know I love you.” That is not trivial. That is the real thing.
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.