Sunday reflection by Very Reverend Stephen E. Salocks, Rector of Saint John's Seminary - June 20, 2021
On the Twelfth Sunday of the Year, the familiar story of Jesus’ stilling the storm offers us the opportunity to grow in our understanding of who Jesus is and how our Lord is present and active in the stormy moments of our lives. Like the first disciples in the Gospel passage, we learn to listen and respond to Jesus’ wise and powerful teaching and trust his powerful presence in our lives.
In the last verses of the fourth chapter of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus, after a busy day of teaching, decides to leave the crowd by crossing “to the other side.” Almost as soon as Jesus and the disciples depart, they are suddenly caught in a fierce storm with the wind and waves tossing the boat and threatening to sink it. Fearing that they are about to drown, the terrified disciples turn to Jesus, who is asleep in the stern of the boat. They wake him and ask him, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” Jesus immediately responds with a simple and straightforward command, “Quiet! Be still!” Jesus speaks not only to the storm but also to his disciples. By asking his disciples, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” Jesus is encouraging every disciple to believe and trust him.
The “storms” of our lives often offer us the moments to grow in our faith and trust more in the Lord. This is true not only of our life together in the Church but also in our individual lives.
God, who brought creation, life, order, and all that is good out of what was “formless void and darkness” (Genesis 1:2), has now acted in a new creative moment through his Son. We find support and clarification of this in the other scriptures proclaimed today. The First Reading from the Book of Job recalls the mystery and wonder of God’s creation and control of the sea, wind, and waves. The Responsorial Psalm speaks of the gratitude of those who experienced the Lord’s kind and calming action to still the stormy waters. In the Second Reading, Saint Paul reminds us that we now live not for ourselves but for Christ, who died and was raised. Indeed, “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation.”
Today, the Scriptures reassure us that in every storm or situation we face, Jesus is present with us, even in the moments of our fear, anxiety, or distress. This is true of our life together in the Church as well as the moments of turbulence and turmoil we experience in our individual lives. When we are inclined to wonder if God cares, the Gospel assures us that Jesus is in the boat with us and is concerned for us even we cannot sense his care. Our prayer today is that we will always rely on the Lord, who is our strength and refuge in stormy times and calm ones. In the words of the Collect for Mass today, may we always enjoy our Lord’s guidance and cooperate with his efforts to set us firm on the foundation of His love.