Gospel For Today: 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time


In today’s gospel reading from Mk 4:35-41, we find Jesus calming the stormy sea.  As with most scripture passages, it is not hard to find multiple layers of meaning.  It would be easy, especially in light of Pope Francis’ new encyclical, Laudato Si’, to read this passage as an affirmation of God’s dominion over creation.  Indeed, as our first reading from Job reminds us, God made the sea and it answers to His commands.  He is Author of all creation.  He made it; it belongs to Him.  We are but stewards of God’s gifts.  

Our psalm today (Ps 107), is also set on a stormy sea.  The travelers in the storm are in distress and cry out to God.  He calms the sea.  “They rejoiced that they were calmed, and He brought them to their desired rest” (Ps 107:30).  There is a deeper meaning to our gospel that has less to do with Jesus’ calming of the storm and more to do with His calming of our hearts.  
Jesus Himself is calm during this whole episode.  While the disciples on the boat are panicking, thinking they will perish in the storm, “Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion” (Mk 4:38).  Many artists depict this gospel story by painting Jesus boldly standing on the bow of the ship, defiant against the raging sea and storm.  According to the gospel, however, our Lord was in the back of the ship taking a nap.  He was at rest.
It is that rest that He wishes for His disciples, including you and I.  The disciples are worried about the storm but also a bit incredulous that their Master could be sleeping at such a time.  “Do you not care that we are perishing,” they ask as they wake Him.  Jesus simply asks them, “Why are you terrified?  Do you not yet have faith?”
We all have stormy seas in our lives.  Sometimes the storms come from without, but all too often we find them within.  Our hearts, minds and souls can be raging against us at times, riddled with fear and anxiety.  Am I going to fail this exam?  Will I ever fall in love?  Will I find a job after I graduate?  Does grandma have to go to the nursing home?  Will mom’s cancer return?  Why can’t I make good friends?  Why doesn’t anyone understand me?
Our storms can terrify us.  But Jesus says, “Why are you terrified?  Do you not yet have faith?”  Jesus desires to help us; not so much by making the storms disappear, but by giving us His peace which allows us to find rest even during the storm.
Having faith in Christ will not guarantee you an A on all your exams, or that you’ll land your dream job or never have anyone you love get sick or die.  But faith will allow you to pass through these storms with peace, knowing that Christ is with you.  To have Christ is to have enough.  To have Christ is to have everything.  
Today we celebrate Father’s Day.  Jesus teaches us, His followers, to call God Abba (Father), for He wants us to have faith in God’s loving and fatherly care for us.  “Jesus asks for childlike abandonment to the providence of our heavenly Father Who takes care of His children’s smallest needs” (CCC 305).
When we are frightened as children, we run to our father for comfort.  Dad can somehow make our fear go away simply by his comforting presence.  We have different fears as adults, but throughout our lives we have a Father who can calm our stormy hearts if we have faith enough to run to Him.  “Why are you terrified?  Do you not yet have faith?”
Help us, O Lord, for we are troubled; give the command, O God, and bring us peace.
–gospel antiphon from the Liturgy of the Hours, Morning Prayer for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time.