12th Sunday in Ordinary Time B – June 23, 2024

 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time B – June 23, 2024

Job 38:1, 8-11; 2 Corinthians 5:14-17; Mark 4:35-41

 

Theme: How We Should Regard Jesus When Facing Our Own Suffering: Jesus Has Divine Power Over the Forces of Nature

 

Last Sunday, we were enlightened by two parables in the Gospel: The Sees Grows of Itself and the Mustard Seed. They revealed to us that the fulfillment of God’s kingdom we hope for is a gradual process, like a seed scattered that grows and we know not how; it also starts very small, like a mustard seed, but later becomes larger. Hence, we must underline the significance of patience, faith, and courage in our journey of hope as we build God’s kingdom where we live. Today, the Scripture readings guide us on how we should regard Jesus when facing our own storms of suffering. It invites us to meditate on Jesus’ divine power over the forces of nature, the power he shared with God the Father. In our Gospel, the disciples find themselves in a perilous situation in the middle of the sea with storms battering their boat. The first reading narrates the story of a despondent Job who questions why he has to endure the “storms” of his suffering, he who obeys God. Amid our own storms of suffering, Saint Paul, in the second reading, instructs the Corinthian believers and us that, through Christ, we no longer exist for ourselves, but we exist for Jesus.

The Gospel story we heard comes immediately after the series of four parables (The parable of the Sower with its explanation [4:1-20], the Lamp [vv. 21-25], the Seed Grows Itself  [vv. 26-29], and the Mustard Seed [vv. 30-35])  and opens the series of four miracles (The Calming of a Storm at Sea [4:35-41,] which is our Gospel today, the Healing of the Gerasene Demoniac [5:1-20], and the two miracles joined together,  the Healing of Jairus’s Daugther and the Woman with Hemorrhage [5:21-43.]) In teaching his disciples the necessity of building the kingdom of God, Jesus first taught them in words with the series of parables, and now, with the series of miracles, he teaches them in deeds.

Our Gospel passage is a miracle narrative with metaphors. It begins with Jesus ordering the disciples to leave their place and cross to the other side (v. 35). Then, the narrator recounts how the miracle happened (vv. 36-40). Finally, he concludes the story by commenting on the disciples' reactions (v. 41).

Jesus instructed his disciples to leave their place and cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee to the region of the Decapolis, a Gentile territory (v. 35). Today, Jesus also instructs the baptized Christians to “cross to the other side.”  Crossing to the other side can mean reaching out to others, especially those not from our Church community, families, social classes, and cultures. Jesus asks us to leave our comfortable and familiar places and reach out to the poor, marginalized, and all in material and spiritual need to minister and help them. To cross to the other side also means to leave our old lives of sins and start new lives with Jesus. We must be aware that any crossing to the other side has “storms” to deal with, as in the case of the disciples in our Gospel story.    

The disciples took Jesus with them in the boat “just as he was,” meaning in the same boat Jesus was in 4:1. They left the crowd and started sailing. Suddenly, they faced a dangerous storm: a violent squall and waves breaking over the boat. Jesus was asleep on a cushion while the disciples were tortured by fear. They wake him up, saying, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” They mean, why was Jesus not as terrified as they were? Why was he ignoring their life-threatening situation?  Jesus woke up and, with his words only, ordered the storm to be quiet and still. Everything came back to normal. Then Jesus questioned their lack of faith (vv. 36-40). The boat represents the Church of Jesus. It also represents Christians as we are the Temples of the Holy Spirit. Water stands for the world. Storms are all the crises and persecutions that threaten the Church in Mark’s time and continue until today. Storms also are all the sufferings and trials we face daily, which try to weaken our faith in Jesus. Darkness signifies the lack of faith of the disciples and us today. So, the boat in the water facing the storms at night means that the Church of Jesus and all of us Christians are in this darkened world full of hate, persecution, and all evils that try to break over the Church and weaken our faith.

This part of the story teaches us to have strong faith in Jesus even when we face spiritual storms threatening our relationships with God. Let us remember to call upon Jesus. He was in the boat with the disciples, which means he is always in the Church and our hearts. As the creator, he has control over the nature. His Word is powerful to still the spiritual  “winds” and “waves” that try to break over our spiritual lives.

The disciples are awestruck and ask one another about Jesus's divine identity: “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” (V. 41). Mark answers this question by teaching us that Jesus is the master of creation. He has the power to rebuke and quiet the storms that threaten his Church and believers, just as God stilled the storms of suffering that threatened Job's faith in our first reading.

Job experienced extreme suffering. He lost all his family and riches. He could not understand his suffering since he obeyed God faithfully. In the verses preceding our passage, Job had dialogue with his friends discussing the mystery of suffering, but no one has come up with an adequate answer to the question: “Why must a just man suffer?” Then, God himself answered Job in the passage of our first reading. Out of the storm, God reminded Job that He is the master of creation. It is he who rules the sea. He has the power to do things that humans cannot explain: “Thus far shall you come but no farther.” (Job 38:8-11). The book of Job teaches us that our sufferings are not necessarily the consequence of our sins or God's punishment. Rather, they are part of our lives, and we must face them with a strong faith in God. Jesus himself endured these sufferings and did not abandon his faith in God. He died for us and was raised, and as such, we who follow him no longer live for ourselves, but we live for him, as Saint Paul advises us to look at Christ in our second reading. He says that we who are in Christ are a new creation. So, in allusion to what God told Job in this reading, Mark, in our Gospel, by presenting Jesus rebuking and stilling the storms, teaches us that Jesus is “God with us.”

As we learned from the disciples' experience with Jesus and Job's with God, how do we regard our Lord when facing our own storms of suffering? The liturgy of this Mass exhorts us to trust Jesus. He orders us to “cross to the other side,” and he can deliver us from any storm of trials we encounter in our faith journey because he has the divine power over the forces of nature. Amen.  

 

Rev. Leon Ngandu, SVD

 

 

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