Home » Gospel Encouragement – 20th June 2021 – 12th Sunday of the Year

Gospel Encouragement – 20th June 2021 – 12th Sunday of the Year

Dear sisters and brothers,

Some years ago now I had the blessing of going on an eight day silent retreat, led by the Jesuits.  When I say ‘led’, that basically means that they feed you and you meet with a prayer guide once a day to reflect on your experience in prayer and silence over the previous 24 hours and be given a passage of Scripture to pray with and ponder over the 24 hours to come.  It sounds daunting in some ways, but in fact it is an amazing time of blessing, which I would recommend to anyone.

Why do I mention this?  One of the passages that was given to me was today’s Gospel, and in that greater space for prayer than normal it led me to a reflection that has stayed with me ever since.  In my image of the boat on an extremely stormy Sea of Galilee I was alone with Jesus, and yes, I think as it started, he was asleep and I was stressed.  But as I imagined the scene when Jesus awoke he didn’t calm the storm, but he sat down beside me and put his arms around my shoulders, and we rode out the storm together.

I share this for two reasons.  Firstly, when we pray with Sacred Scripture the Lord uses it to help us see the message in it that it specifically for us, highlighting how the Word of God is not just to be read at Mass, but pondered in our every day lives.  And secondly, it gives an example of how the Scriptures work at different levels, both presenting the facts of the event in Jesus’ earthly life and speaking into our own lives 2,000 years later.

Today’s readings, as we reflect on the events, highlight the fact that Jesus is God.  In the first reading God is telling Job that only he, God himself, has power over the forces of nature.  In the second reading St Paul is reminding the Corinthians of Jesus’ defeat of death itself in his resurrection, revealing his ultimate power over the forces of nature.  And in the Gospel Jesus reveals his power over the forces of nature, revealing that he is God made man, the Messiah, to his disciples.  Today, then, we are being challenged to reaffirm our belief that Jesus is God, the second person of the Trinity.  He who was there at creation, bringing the order of nature out of chaos, brought order out of the chaos of the storm enfolding the disciples in their boats and continues to bring order out of the chaos of the storms that erupt in our lives.

But we, like the disciples, need to learn the lessons of this storm on the sea.  Jesus was asleep.  Why, when all around him was turmoil and his friends were in terror?  Because he knew that his Father would look after him.  His deep life of prayer gave him the confidence to know that all would be well.  This storm might be the devil trying to upset the Father’s plans, but it would not end this way, because the end would be in Jerusalem on a Cross, followed by an empty tomb.  His questioning of the disciples lack of faith maybe reflects a level of disappointment that their faith in him as the Messiah hadn’t, as yet, understood this truth as well.  And so, as the Word of God who ordered creation to exist at the beginning of time, he orders creation now to be calm, to be still, that the disciples might understand a little more clearly who he is, as “even the wind and the waves obey him”.

The early Church fathers taught that this event speaks to us as well.  As Jesus was with the disciples in the midst of their turmoil, he is with us in the midst of ours as well, whatever it may be.  He doesn’t promise to always make it right, but he promises to be with us always.  As we ride the waves of the storms in our lives, do we trust in his presence, that he will awake when we need him most and put his arms around us, and ride out the storm with us?  Or like the disciples, do we panic and worry and despair of his willingness to help?  If we are like the disciples, that’s the devil gaining a foothold.  He loves us to despair, but our faith in Jesus defeats the devil the most when we trust in Jesus, even in those worst of times, because we know, like Jesus, that it will not end this way.  Our end, too, will be in our own Jerusalem, our own death, and in our rebirth into everlasting life.  But, if we panic in the meantime, Jesus will arise and bring order out of the chaos that we feel, to help us see the way ahead more clearly, however painful it may be, and he will be the strength who is always with us, enabling us to walk that path, whatever life may throw at us, with courage and confidence.  Jesus is always faithful, even when we are unfaithful.

So we pray for ourselves today, particularly for those who are struggling at the moment, that we would know the peace, the calm, the order of Jesus’ presence in our lives, his deep, abiding love for each of us; that we would experience Jesus placing his loving arms around us to strengthen and encourage us; and that we would grow in trust of Jesus more and more each day.

Jesus, I trust in you!  Jesus, I trust in you!  Jesus, I trust in you!

With every blessing,

Simon