Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sunday liturgies have returned to Ordinary Time after the long period of Lent, the Easter season and a series of important feasts. A lesson is in the sequence. Imagine a class in school: Each week, the Church elaborates and expands its message to us.
The first reading from the Bible for this weekend is from the Book of Job. Job, who has been popularly mislabeled over the centuries as heroically patient, in fact underwent many hardships in his life and challenged God.
Job resented the hardships he faced in life. He questioned God’s mercy. The Book of Job chronicles his exchange with God. The final verdict is that God is good, merciful and providing.
For the second reading, the Church offers a passage from Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians. As is so often the case in Pauline writings, this selection is a great testament to the reality of Jesus as the Son of God and as a man, and to the unbreakable bond between Jesus and true Christians.
It is a bond confirmed and wonderfully extended to all generations in all places, by the Lord’s willing sacrifice on Calvary. In and through this sacrifice, all is made right between God and humanity.
True disciples share in the gift achieved by this sacrifice, eternal life itself and life with God.
St. Mark’s Gospel supplies the last reading. The story is set on the Sea of Galilee, as the modern Lake of Tiberias was known in ancient times. Several of the Apostles were fishermen. All the Apostles, however, would have been familiar with fishing as a livelihood, since all came from the region of the lake.
Terrible storms in the mold of today’s hurricanes and tornadoes do not occur in this northern part of present-day Israel. They did not happen in this region at the time of Jesus either. Yet heavy thunderstorms and high winds did come upon the lake.
This story’s recollection of such a storm, therefore, is not far-fetched. Not difficult either to understand the fright created by being in a small boat, at some distance from the safety of the shore, when a bad storm arose. Sailing would not have been easy. An open boat easily could have taken on water.
Jesus was asleep on a cushion in the boat when the storm came. He was not afraid. He took no notice of the storm.
The Apostles were very frightened. They awakened Jesus, sure that they were about to drown, and they pleaded for the Lord’s help.
Jesus controlled the elements by ordering the water to be calm.
The contrast between the Apostles and Jesus is the lesson. Jesus had power over the elements. As Mark’s Gospel presents Jesus elsewhere, the Lord is the Son of God, but the Apostles are mere mortals. They can control little beyond themselves. They cannot foresee their own future. They cannot even find a quick way to assure their safety in a storm. They are vulnerable to death. Fear runs away with them. They are faced with their helplessness.
On this weekend in the United States, we celebrate Father’s Day, honoring our fathers. Good fathers are God’s gifts to families, so we honor them.
God is the loving Father of all. We are not orphans. God gave us Jesus, our brother. Jesus ascended into heaven. He lives with us in the life of the Spirit, given in and through the Church. In the teaching, sanctifying Church, God is with us.
The Church invites us to respond to God’s love. Basic to this response is our admission of our own inadequacies. Face it. Despite any accomplishments or talents, we humans always are God’s dependent children.
He always is our life-giving, protective Father, another reason to celebrate.
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