12th Sunday of the Year — The voice of calm
Posted: Thu, 17 Jun 2021 13:19
Storms are part of the lived human experience. It is very rare to go through life without encountering some sort of a storm—and this storm can take various dimensions to stare us in the face. Without a doubt, 2020 and 2021 will go down in history as the years of storms for so many of us. Work, education, social life and our family dynamic have been 'infected' by a tiny virus that we now have to learn how to live with. We have faced the spectres of unemployment, family breakdown, social Isolation and financial worries. The readings at mass today certainly speak to all of us and remind us that God is with us, sharing the storm.
We meet the amazing Job whose life seems to be filled with trials and storms. We have shared his lot as we face the storms of life and wonder: why do bad things happen to good people? From the heart of the storm, God speaks to Job, not offering him a quick fix or the words he might want to hear. Just like us, Job has to face the storm and, just like us, he has to learn to live with it.
In Mark's gospel, Jesus and his friends are crossing over the Sea of Galilee into modern day Jordan. He is giving us an early insight into the importance of spreading the gospel to all, including the Gentiles. As they travel in the boat, Jesus is calm and falls fast asleep; you I can think of those wonderful people who remain calm in the crazy and unreal situations that life can throw at us. Like you, I give thanks for these wonderful followers of Christ who point the way through crisis. Like you, I give thanks for those who have been there for us during the wobbles of life—give thanks, especially, for those who have been there for us during the pandemic. They have been there, without judgement, at the end of a telephone line or in a zoom call; they have offered encouraging texts or memes. They have been light in our darkness; they have been rainbows of hope in crisis. On a personal level, I could not have got through this time of trial and pain had it not been for those friends and family who stood by me offering unconditional support and care—especially when I did not deserve it.
In the storm on Galilee, the disciples turn to their rock, their friend, their light, their rainbow. In the crisis Jesus can simply say 'quiet now, be calm!'; Jesus wants that for each and everyone of us. In the midst of whatever family or personal crisis you are going through, those words of Jesus echo through time: 'quiet now, be calm'. It is in that calmness that we can see things clearly and plan a way forward through the obstacles and pain; as Johnny Nash wrote:
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.
Listen to the song and reflect: Johnny Nash - I Can See Clearly Now
I pray that you experience the calm and peace that God offers us when we are prepared to place our trust in the Almighty. Remember that God could well be using you this week to be that voice of calm and reason for any of your friends or family who are enduring a crisis.
In a matter of seconds, all is calm again on Galilee Lake and amazement takes hold of the disciples. They might have cried out in the words of the Psalmist; 'More majestic than the breakers of the sea the Lord is majestic in the heights' [Ps.93: 4]. In calming the storm, Jesus has exercised a divine prerogative. And, again, as the Psalmist might have expressed it, 'they cried to the Lord in their need and he rescued them from their distress, he stilled the storm to a whisper' [Ps.106: 28). God always delivers those who put their trust in him and even when he is seemingly silent, he is doing something for our good.
As we renew our trust in the Lord this day, may our faith never fail us, and may the Lord calm every storm raging in our lives.
As always, John O'Donohue can offer us encouragement in the darkest of days:
May you know serenity
When you are called
To enter the house of suffering.
May a window of light always surprise you.
May you be granted the wisdom
To avoid false resistance;
When suffering knocks on the door of your life,
May you glimpse its eventual gifts.
May you be able to receive the fruits of suffering.
May memory bless and protect you
With the hard-earned light of past travail;
To remind you that you have survived before
And though the darkness now is deep,
You will soon see the approaching light.
May the grace of time heal your wounds.
May you know that though the storm might rage,
Not a hair of your head will be harmed.
Fr Gerry O'Shaughnessy SDB
Image: Jesus with the disciples in the storm by Waldemar Flaig, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons