Twelfth Sunday: God Over Nature

At the end of the Book of Job, God addressed Job out of a storm and asked him if he was present when God created the world.

Jun 19, 2021

12th Sunday of Ordinary Time Readings:
Job 38:1, 8-11; 2 Corinthians 5:14-17;
Gospel: Mark 4:35-41

At the end of the Book of Job, God addressed Job out of a storm and asked  him if he was present when God created  the world. In today’s first reading God  speaks about the creation and confining of  the sea. In the Gospel, Jesus quiets a storm,  and the disciples ask, “Who is this Whom  even the wind and sea obey?”

Insurance companies use a term to describe an uncontrollable natural force.  They call this an act of God. That is an  unfortunate term. It assumes that God  causes nature to do harm to people. God  does not do evil things to people. People  do evil things to people. Pope Francis, in  the encyclical Laudato Si’, On Care for  our Common Home, directs us to discover  and prevent any catastrophe that could  rightly be called an Act of Man. 

Natural catastrophes are events that we  are very much aware of here in Florida. We  are always keeping an eye on the weather  and how it will affect the waters around us.  We have to have a lot of respect for stormy  weather, particularly when a hurricane  threatens. Here at St Ignatius, we either  have hurricane windows, or wood or metal  doors and windows to protect the church  and all of our buildings. Hopefully, you  have all made provisions to protect your  homes also.

As careful as people have to be with  their property that is on land, they have to  be far more careful with that which is on  the water. Boats have got to be secured.  Trying to stay afloat during a major storm  is foolish unless you are in a really large  ship. The ancients also had a healthy respect  for the sea and for storms out on the sea. 

The ancients saw the sea as one of the  most powerful forces in the world. They  also saw it as a source of beauty. Life itself  came from the sea. Food comes from the  sea. Peace and serenity come from looking at the sea. If you don’t believe me then  you haven’t gone out to watch a sunset recently.

Even though it was such a powerful  force, the ancients knew that God could  control the sea. In the Book of Job, Job’s  pains lead him to question God’s wisdom  and power. God challenges Job with the  simple statement in the first reading for  this Sunday: “I closed up the sea.” God has  even more power than the sea.

The fear of a storm at sea was too much  for Jesus’ disciples in today’s Gospel reading. Many of them were fishermen. They  were terrorised when they saw the storm  coming. When Jesus quieted the sea and  the winds, they recognised the power of  God working through him. Their question: 

“Who is this that calms the storm and the  winds?” was similar to asking, “Who is the  King of Glory?”

First, though, their faith was tried. Remember, when the storm came up, Jesus  was asleep in the boat. It appeared that  He was not concerned with their plight.  It seemed that they had to ride out this  storm alone. The fear that the disciples  had is the same fear that we all have when  we are confronted with a crisis. We find  out that we have a serious illness, and we  become fearful for our lives and for our  loved ones. We learn a terrible truth about  one of our relatives or friends, and we fear  that their lives and even our own reputations will be shattered. We often have to accept a change in our lives. Even changes  as routine as moving from Middle School to High School, or High School to college, or college to independent life as a young  adult can be frightening. We consider marriage and our responsibilities to a person  we love, and then we consider our responsibilities to the people that we bring into  the world, and we fear that we might not be  up to the challenges of life. We fear that we  are alone. But we are not alone. God sees.  God knows. He’s there in the boat of life  with us as the storms rage. He challenges  us as Jesus challenged his disciples, “Why  are you afraid? Where is your faith?” Our  all-loving God is also an all-powerful God.  He will calm the sea for us if we trust in  Him. God does not forget us, even if we  think He is sleeping.

Perhaps today’s readings are not about  nature after all. They are about God, the  One who created the universe and cares for  each one of us as an only child. He calls  upon us to have faith that the Conqueror of  the seas and of all chaos will help us grow  closer to Him through all the challenges of  our lives. — By Msgr Joseph A Pellegrino

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