• Rev. Lawrence E. Polansky

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

“Who is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

Entrance Antiphon: Ps 28(27):8-9 – “The Lord is the strength of His people, a saving refuge for the one He has anointed. Save Your people, Lord, and bless Your heritage, and govern them forever.”

First Reading: Jb 38:1, 8-11 – “Here shall your proud waves be stilled!”

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 107:23-24, 25-26, 28-29, 30-31 – “Give thanks to the Lord, His love is everlasting”

Second Reading: 2 Cor 5:14-17 – “Behold, new things have come.”

Alleluia: Lk 7:16 – Alleluia, alleluia. “A great prophet has risen in our midst. God has visited His people.” Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel: Mk 4:35-41 – “Who is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

Communion Antiphon: Ps 145(144):15 – “The eyes of all look to You, Lord, and You give them their food in due season.”

Good Evening / Morning! Let me begin by saying Happy Father’s Day to all Dads, Grand-dads, and Great-Grand-dads! Happy Father’s Day to all Dads-to-Be, God-Fathers, Step-Fathers, Uncles, and Spiritual Fathers. And Happy Father’s Day to all those who treat us as if they were our Dads or who we look up to as Dads… Happy Father’s Day … Enjoy your day!

Based upon the readings this weekend, let me now begin this homily by telling you something that is both true and maybe at the same time for some of you perhaps difficult to hear. All people struggle with fear. That includes everyone … both you and me … everyone.

Fears may not always be obvious, but they nonetheless have extraordinary power over our actions and perception of reality. Fears buried under or with other emotions are more difficult to detect. For instance, guilt is a combination of two feelings: joy and fear. Likewise despair = sadness + fear … shame = disgust + fear … and anxiety = anticipation + fear. Worry, terror, dread, panic, guilt, despair, shame, and anxiety – in struggling with these things, when we get right down to it, we are all struggling with fear.

In fact, the Christian story is the dynamic back-and-forth between human fear and divine embrace. This is evident in the first chapters of the Bible when, filled with shame, Adam and Eve hide from God. “Where are you?” God calls out. Adam responds, “I am hiding because I am afraid” (Genesis 3:9-10).

So this Christian story is our story: All of us struggle with fear. Fear is the heart’s cry for God’s love. This deeply human experience can then become the fundamental context for meeting God.

And believe it when I say to you, in the midst of our fear, God pulls us close. In the First Reading, the world is heavy for Job … filled with suffering, despair, and fear. One thing after another goes wrong, and Job can’t make sense of the pain. And if I were to ask, I am quite sure many of us have experienced what Job experienced. So Job cries out to God. But God doesn’t respond as we might imagine. God doesn’t immediately take away all of Job’s difficulty or pain. God doesn’t promise him an easy life. Rather, like a loving mother who calms the fear of her child with her love, God pulls the trembling Job close to His heart and reminds him that He loves him and has loved him since the beginning of the world. Love casts out all fear.

In the midst of our fear, God calls us into new life. From the stories in the New Testament that we’ve all heard, Saint Paul had a broken past. For us, too, many of our fears today are bound up in past experiences that continue to bring us guilt and shame. Jesus healed Paul’s past and released him from the bondage of his past mistakes. In Christ, Saint Paul became a new creation. Freed from fear, Paul has a new future: “The old things have passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Isn’t that what happens for each one of us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

In the midst of our fear, God calms the storm. In the Gospel, the disciples were afraid … perhaps even terrified. Our lives, too, can feel like a storm for various reasons: financial uncertainty or risk or over-extension … relationship turbulence … health danger or health unknowns … addiction. Jesus didn’t seem particularly perturbed that His disciples asked Him to calm the storm. Rather, His disappointment most likely came from the fact they doubted His love for them. “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38). The Gospel seems to be absolutely clear about two things that Jesus’ disciples need to know and, therefore, something that each of us needs to know: 1) Jesus loves each and every one of us and does not want us to suffer. … 2) Calming the storms is part of His job description. Jesus is expecting that we ask Him for whatever we need.

So think about it. Your fear is a cry for God’s love. If you are experiencing fear as suffering, or despair, or anxiety, as Job did … ask God to pull you close … to embrace you in such a way that you know you have all you need. If you are experiencing fear as shame and guilt, like Saint Paul … ask Jesus to break the chains of old sins, habits, and events, so that you can experience newness of life and redemption. If you feel the storm and … like the disciples are terrified … Jesus is waiting for you to ask Him to speak that powerful command into your world: “Quiet! Be still.” Always remember, in the midst of our fear, God embraces us with love.

And now once again, as in every time we gather to celebrate Eucharist, God now gathers all of us, His beloved children, around this table and tables just like it all around the world to bring us into communion with Him.

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