Jesus Will Calm Your Storm: 12th Sunday
Sermon by Emmanuel Suntheni OSB
Theme: Jesus Christ will calm your storm: Just trust in the Lord, harmony will be restored
“When prayer does not stop a storm, it provides a shelter in the storm.”
Point of reflection: Am I going through a stormy situation in my life at the moment? What is it and how can I face up to it? Have you ever suffered or gone through tough times and it looked that nobody cares? Today’s readings offer us true hope, that besides all the difficult and hard times you are going through, Jesus Christ will calm the storm, God is all good and is with us no matter what chaos and difficult times we are going through. So assured, believers can only confirm the truth of the Psalmist’s words, “God brought them out from their distress; he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they had quiet”
First Reading: Job 38:1, 8–11
Psalm: Psalm 107:23–26, 28–31
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:14–17
Gospel: Mark 4:35–41
Sermon (Reflection): Today’s Biblical readings offer a striking and graphic reassurance about God’s dominion over the chaos that threatens to unravel our life. The story of Job in the first reading does not explain the reasons for undeserved suffering, these lie beyond human comprehension. Each one of us has gone through undeserved suffering and some of us are going through undeserved suffering now. Do not worry, trust in the Lord, He will calm the storm.
Notably, the story of Job teaches us that one must face this insoluble problem with the conviction that chaos and evil are not beyond God’s control. God manages creation on His own terms and will surely reinstate the proper order and harmony when and how he deems fit. Confronted by this humbling dilemma of God’s autonomy and human powerlessness, Job wrestled with the question of suffering and argued with God. Significantly, he never gave up or renounced his faith, he never “cursed God” (Cf. Job 2:9), which is the core lesson of this drama. In the end, his persistence bore the desired fruit; his life was reinstated to harmony and peace (Cf. Job 42:12-17). As a Christian, never lose hope or give up in life, no matter what situation you are going through, pray to the Lord: God is in charge of our life.
Job struggled to understand why his life dissolved into bewildering chaos. God’s answer does not explain the reason for his suffering but provides an assurance that the forces of chaos which now besiege Job, are still under God’s control. Therefore, despite evidence to the contrary, Job’s fate is not determined by chaos, but by God who rules over chaos and evil. This is manifested in the Gospel of today, where we encounter Jesus calming chaos and installing peace and harmony (Cf. Mark 4:35–41).
The Gospel passage symbolically describes how Jesus confronted chaos and restored harmony. Extending the reach of His ministry, Jesus decided to cross lake Galilee and move to “the other side”. He was accompanied by His disciples. Initially, they showed initiative and arrange the crossing, they “took him with them into the boat”.
What took place next is deeply symbolic. In the course of crossing the lake, the disciples found themselves in the midst of destructive chaos. They were struck by powerful winds and their boat began to fill with water; they were “swamped” by the watery chaos threatening to engulf and consume them altogether. This cosmic chaos threw them into internal chaos of fear and despair. Surrounded by this dramatic turmoil, Jesus was an oasis of tranquillity. He slept peacefully in a boat tossed by fierce winds and filling with water. This would have been humanly impossible, but Jesus’ unperturbed sleep is intended to mean that chaos and evil have no dominion or even impact on him.
The disciples turned to Jesus in desperation, their words reflective of the assumption that Jesus is indifferent to their fate, and of a lack of confidence that Jesus can do anything about the raging chaos.
The story takes a dramatic turn as Jesus effortlessly stills the storm with a word of command. Instantly, the scene turns from chaos to stillness and harmony. This act echoes God’s way of creation by instilling order into the watery chaos by his commanding word (Cf. Genesis 1:1-8). Stilling the storm Jesus acted like the creator God, with complete mastery over unruly destructive chaos. His command reinstated harmony in nature, but also in the disciples, who moved from internal terror to wonder and admiration. Their wonder, however, shows that at this point their faith was still in its infancy. Falling well short of acknowledging Jesus as a divine person, they merely wondered who this person who commands nature and chaos might be.
This rich story presents Jesus as a master over chaos, a divine guardian of harmony. His word saved the disciples from the destructive forces which frightened them, but which were impotent to shatter them because of Jesus’ presence.
In the second reading (Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:14–17), St Paul was driven by the experience of Christ’s resurrection and the perspective of final restoration. He harboured no doubt that the victory over death and decay had already been secured
He was compelled by Christ’s example of self-sacrificial love, and could not do otherwise but respond to it by devoting his entire existence to the service of the one who died for all. Paul no longer lived for himself, but for Christ, because Christ lived and died for all.
Suffering and death are not Paul’s focus, resurrection is. Because of this pivotal event, Paul no longer perceived himself and others “from the human point of view”. Referring to Jesus’ earthly and bodily life, Paul stated that, “we once knew Christ from the human point of view”. But that phase had ended, and a new era has dawned, one which Paul calls “new creation”. The dawn of this era marked a revolutionary change in creation as “everything old passed away”, and “everything has become new”. As Christians, we need to be born anew.
Christian Act in Word of God “Calming the Storm”
God alone has the power to calm any storm! A storm is an unpleasant and frightful event that breaks in suddenly and threatens one’s very existence. Everyone gets hit by a storm sometimes and somewhere in life. We need Jesus Christ to calm our storms in life. Having Jesus in one’s “boat” does not spare one the storms of life. The most perplexing part of a storm is when it hits us while we are still on our knees in prayer. There are some who have had unpleasant experiences when their prayer life was at its peak. They prayed so hard and yet the storm came and filled their boats with water. There are some who have been hit by storms in their marriages; others felt the storms of illnesses or ageing threatening their bodies; still, others have felt the force of a storm in their professional or religious vocations. It is safe to say that we are all aware of have been battling with a storm in the area of our health or occupation. And today, Jesus Christ is telling us not to be afraid, but to have faith, the storm we are going through will be calmed, in Christ name.
A storm is not a sign of divine abandonment. It does not mean our prayer has gone to waste. Our suffering may be intense and inexplicable, but we have not been abandoned. It is said, “while prayer does not stop a storm, it provides a shelter in the storm”. Though the journey may be rough, with Christ in the boat we are assured of safe arrival.
The two questions that Jesus asked his disciples when he had calmed the storm reveal the attitude and disposition the Lord expects of us in the face of a storm. “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Fear does not establish a person; it destabilizes a person. When trials come our way, the first thing we should keep in mind is that there is no need to be afraid. Secondly, we are called upon to exercise our faith. As someone rightly said, “Faith is the refusal to panic”. It is an expression of deep trust in the Lord of the storm.
It is the desire of God to bring harmony into every chaotic situation in which we find ourselves. Today the Lord speaks words of peace to us. He says to every troubled heart “Peace! Be still!”
Action:I select one particular type of “storm” that I frequently face in daily life and respond to it guided by the message of today’s Gospel: not being afraid but having faith.
Prayer: Almighty God, You sent us your Son Jesus Christ who calms all storms, there is no storm Jesus Christ cannot handle, Jesus Christ please calm the storms am going through in this life and offer peace to my heart and this troubled world, send us Your Holy Spirit to be with us, we ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen