The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time [B]
Job 38:1,8-11 + 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 + Mark 4:35-41
June 20, 2021
“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”
In this Sunday’s Gospel Reading, it’s asked about Jesus, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” Yet those who ask this are not strangers. They were disciples: people who were close to Jesus, and to whom Jesus had dedicated a lot of His time. It’s because of Jesus’ dedication that their question seems strange. Shouldn’t they know better? Shouldn’t they have some idea that Jesus is more than just a teacher?
In this, these disciples are you and me. In their ignorance of who Jesus really is, we can see a likeness of ourselves. This is one of the sources of so much trouble, agitation and discord in our own lives. The problem isn’t with Jesus. The problem is with us. These disciples ask, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
Strike one, and strike two. These disciples make two mistakes here. Not only are they mistaken in thinking that Jesus is nothing more than a teacher. In fact, that’s the lesser of their two mistakes. The worse mistake is what they accuse Jesus of when they ask, “Don’t you care that we are perishing?”
Do you ever say something like this when you pray to God? Do you ever say to Him, “Don’t You care?” “Why aren’t You doing something?” “Don’t You see what’s happening in my life?”
Of course, all of these questions really boil down to the same question: “Don’t You love me, God?”
What naturally follows is our saying to God, “If You did love me, You never would have allowed things to get this bad in my life.” Or in other words, we might pray: “I can’t do anything about this mess, but You surely can. Since You’re choosing not to help me, You must not love me.”
For the disciples in the boat as they are tossed and pitched about, the same dynamic is at work. They need to answer these two questions: “Who am I?” and “Who is God?” Yet the first question has to be answered first before seeking an answer to the second.
The same dynamic is at work as you are pitched and tossed about in the storm that we call “life”. In our prayers, we wonder and we ask whether God cares for us. As we ask this question about God’s love, we in turn wonder who we are, and whether our own lives have meaning. After all, if God does not love me, what hope—what future—does my life have?
There is only hope—there is only a future for us—if our lives are rooted in Christ. The answer to the question of the storm-tossed disciples is given by Saint Paul in the Second Reading. The answer to the questions of our daily lives is given to us by Saint Paul.
As he reflects, looking back in time many decades after Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension, Saint Paul could see what the storm-tossed disciples could not. Saint Paul proclaims in the Second Reading: “… even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer. So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”
The storm-tossed disciples saw only a Teacher. They could not see a Savior. They only knew Christ according to the flesh: that is, with earthly eyes. They did not see Christ with eyes of faith.
Nor did they look at their own lives with eyes of faith. If they had, they would have seen more than just storm-tossed, weary, frightened people. They would have seen themselves as people loved by God: people loved by a God who protects His beloved from anything that can truly harm them.
In fact, there is a third strike made by the storm-tossed disciples when they cry out, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” The third strike is thinking that they are perishing.
If the Lord is with you, you will not perish, for the Lord is life. If you live your life in Christ, there is nothing you cannot endure. Christ has not made us for this world. He’s made us for a life that journeys through this world, drawing others into the peace of God’s presence even in the middle of storms.