12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s readings remind us that although we have learned to harness some of the forces of nature with modern science and technology, it seems there will always be some forces beyond our control and subject only to the control of God Himself.

Our readings are a sober reminder of this.  The Old Testament reading from Job and the Gospel reading from Mark are bracketed together by  the word “who”.  The setting of both readings is that of a storm.  In Job we read: “Who shut the sea within doors?  Who set limits to it?”

The Gospel scene is also set in a storm.  After Jesus is awakened, he quiets the storm and His disciples ask: “Who can this be that the wind and the waves obey  Him?”

The who question in both readings is one of those larger—than—life questions like “who am I?” and “were am I going?”  The who question compels us to confront the existential questions of “who is Jesus?” and “who is God?”

To answer these questions we have to go back to the creation story of Genesis.  According to ancient mythical stories of the near East, creation resulted when God subdued the forces of chaotic waters and set bounds to them.

Behind the miracle story is an awareness that only God has power to order and sustain creation.  The disciples final question shows that they recognize that Jesus here does what the Old Testament knew God alone could do.  God’s power is now at work in Jesus.  Artists have often used the image of a boat to symbolize the Church.  Since the parish and the individual families of the parish are the Church in miniature, the boat is also an apt symbol for us.  Many times the storms of life cause us to cry out in fear for God’s help.

Sometimes the storm arises from a severe alcohol or drug problem or because of some overwhelming economic or health problem.  We feel that our boat is at the breaking point and that we are going under.  But if we have faith in the Lords’ power to control these forces in our lives, we can ride out the storm and reach the shore.

At other times a storm may arise because of a feeling of discouragement or depression, or because we feel unappreciated or lonely.  However, if our faith in the Lord’s presence is strong enough, we can make it through the storm and regain our equilibrium.  Who controls our destiny?   Jesus does, if we only let Him steady our hands and steer our ship.

God Bless

Msgr. Powell