June 21, 2015 — Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
In our first reading from the Book of Job, the prophet Job finds himself in the midst of a terrible storm, but God speaks to him from the storm and assures Job of His protection and His ability to calm and control all storms. Many of us are beset with storms as well, and the point of our readings on this Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time is that same assurance from the Lord that He is there to protect us and to help us.
Most of us are familiar with the story of Job as reported in the Old Testament. A faithful and righteous man, Job loses everything, but because of his faith, he finishes better than when he started. During the previous 35 Chapters in the Book of Job God has been largely absent from Job’s life. Job yearns for a message or a sign from God. Suddenly in the midst of the storm (also translated as the “whirlwind”) God speaks to Job and comforts him. In the world at the time of Job God’s power and presence was often indicated by a strong storm or wind. One of God’s particular powers was the ability to control those forces. They are forces beyond humankind’s ability to control. Our own world may seem to be filled with forces beyond our control, but God is capable of controlling anything and everything.
The three major bases of Paul’s missionary efforts were Antioch, Ephesus, and Corinth. His letter to the Corinthians, today’s Second Reading, was most likely written from Ephesus. When Paul writes in today’s reading that “…we once knew Christ according to the flesh” Paul is quite likely making a secondary reference to the living Jesus, the Son of Man. Because of his own anti-Christian efforts, Paul surely knew of the living earthly Jesus. Paul goes on to say that Jesus has brought us new life, however, a life that makes the “flesh,” earthly existence, as secondary. In last week’s Second Reading Paul assured us that “We walk by faith, and not by sight.” It is this deep faith to which he refers again in this week’s reading, telling us “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” We have just finished the Easter season recently. We are called to new life. We are called to discipleship and stewardship.
In our first reading from Job God speaks to Job from the midst of a storm. A storm is at the center of today’s Gospel reading from Mark as well. It is a curious scene we are presented. At the time of Jesus fishermen often avoided being on the Sea of Galilee in the late afternoon and early evening because storms were more common and more likely during that time. Yet, the Lord and His Apostles board a boat to cross the sea in the early evening. Since there were fishermen among the group, they certainly were aware of the possibilities, but most likely their trust in Jesus prevented them from questioning the decision. Yet, when Jesus fell asleep during the voyage, and seemed unaware of the storm which had arisen or the danger it posed, they did question, awakening Him, and asking “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
Jesus replies to them perhaps the same way He might answer us when we call to Him for assistance: “Do you not yet have faith?” We are presented in this scene with all the humanity of Jesus as well as His divinity. It was late in the day; Jesus was tired; the Son of Man wanted to rest and sleep. But the Son of God sees the needs of those with Him and He “rebukes” the wind and the storm. The word translated as “rebuke” meant more than to calm; it meant to reprimand, to reprove, and to correct. If we turn to the Lord for help with our personal storms, He can do more than calm us and what may be terrifying or bothering us. He can correct the situation in which we find ourselves, but we must, just as the Apostles did, ask for help.