Browsing Homilies

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jb 38:1, 8-11 | Ps 107 | 2 Cor 5:14-17 | Mk 4:35-41

“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” Jesus’ disciples ask a critical question after Jesus miraculously calmed the unrelenting storm that surrounded their boat. If you were to open up your Bible, you would notice that this reading from the fourth chapter of Mark is toward the beginning of the gospel. Jesus has already called the Twelve and performed various miracles, including healings. Each of these miracles reveal a bit more about Jesus’ identity.

When Jesus calms a storm, he does something that human beings are incapable of doing. Controlling the weather was an action associated with the divine. Entire religions developed out of sacrifice, prayer, and almsgiving to deities who were believed to control different aspects of weather and other natural phenomena. The Hebrew Scriptures often depict God as the master of nature, too. For example, the book of Jeremiah states, “He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses” (Jer 10:13). If you think back to our first reading from Job, our author makes a similar claim about God’s control of the weather. God even speaks from within a storm.

Jesus’ disciples would have made these connections, without the context that we require, and would have immediately been aware of the significant situation they found themselves in. This means that when the disciples ask themselves, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” they mean, “Do our eyes deceive us, are we really in the presence of God?” There is also a symbolic level to Jesus calming the storm. In the midst of chaos and unpredictability, Jesus is a constant presence bringing calm and peace. Even in the most overwhelming scenarios, God brings order in times of disorder.

Our modern culture is certainly guilty of living in a perpetual state of disorder. Our lives are consumed by idols of productivity, busy-ness, and maintaining a public image. We live our lives content with normalizing the immense pressure building inside each of us to be “who we think we ought to be.” Media channels have become professional storm-builders, creating vast, wealthy, and powerful empires that weaponize facts to create dramas that are exciting enough to compete with Netflix and Hulu. Too many of our political leaders are so divisive and mean-spirited toward one another that productive political discourse has become rare. Our Church, too, is not immune to buffeting winds of scandal and disunity.

Many of us walk through life thinking we are immune to these realities because we have our own personal, internal storms of disappointment at work, unhappy marriages, abuse, crises of faith, overwhelming student debt, chronic illness, depression, anxiety, bullying, or exclusion. But this could not be further from the truth. These storms have a great influence in our lives and our interactions with others. In our gospel story today, Jesus offers direction on how to handle the swirling storms in our lives.

First, take time to be away from the busyness of life. Give yourself time away from your usual fixed routines. This will allow you to step away from the noise and consider what is most important in life. Second, our disciples model the importance of being brave enough to ask for help. It is certainly difficult to ask for help sometimes, but when they realized they were in over their heads, the apostles asked Jesus to step in. Just as important as asking for help is reaching out to the correct person. You shouldn’t ask a dentist to perform brain surgery, and you shouldn’t expect your brain surgeon to be your therapist. Our God works through humanity to bring unity and to calm the storms in our life. As a Christian people, we are confident that Jesus Christ offers us a message of hope and peace.

As we celebrate the Eucharist together today, let us embrace the moments of sacred silence within this liturgy and commit ourselves to bravely stand up to the storms in our lives. Sometimes this will be a personal act, but other times it will involve the help of a friend, family member, or even a professional. In all of these storms, may we keep Christ at the center of our efforts.

Let us leave this place of hope and dedicate ourselves to living as a prophetic people of unity.


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