Homily for the twelfth Sunday in the Year  -  Year B  -  Mark 4:35-41

by

Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen



"After have spoken in parables to his disciples, Jesus said to them, "Let us go across to the other side."  And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him.  And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.  But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care if we perish?"  And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?"  And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?"


Homily:

"After having spoken in parables to his disciples, Jesus said to them, «Let us go across to the other side.»"

We are on the bank of the lake of Tiberiade, in Galilee.  Jesus has just spoken to the crowd and to his disciples, teaching them in parables how to know the kingdom of God.  He is going to cross the lake with his disciples in order to bring the good news of the kingdom to the people who live on the East of the great lake.

"Leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat."

The disciples of the Lord took him with them in the boat in order to cross the lake of Tiberiade.  This very simple action of the disciples is a beautiful example to follow.  It invites us to take Jesus with us, to closely unite us with him in order to cross with him all our trials and all our joys.  For it is necessary to speak about trial, here.   The disciples are going to be confronted with a terrifying event, that of a dangerous storm on the lake.  Let us love to keep the Lord close to us and with us, let us love to stay in his very loving and benevolent presence.  Imitate this example of the disciples on the lake of Tiberiade, or even that of the disciples who accompanied risen Jesus until Emmaüs on Easter's evening, saying with them to the Lord: "Stay with us !"(Lk 24:29)

"A great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling."

This agitation of the sea which threatened the disciples' boat with great danger was commented upon frequently by the Church's Fathers.  They saw in it an image of the Church, represented by the boat, rolling around and agitated by all manner during her long pilgrimage on the earth, moving toward the facing bank which represents the celestial homeland.  Indeed, the water is a frequently used image in the Bible, more so in the Old than in the New Testament.  It could have several significances according to the context.  Here, the water especially represents the deluge which covered the earth during the time of Noë, and the boat symbolizes this beneficial ark about which Saint Peter speaks in his first letter (3:20).  Like the disciples in the boat, the followers of Christ are sometimes tormented and agitated in different ways:  trials, difficulties, sadness, anguishes, and other torments of soul and body.  But if they took with them the Lord Jesus, if they are united to Christ in their heart, what can happen?

"But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, «Teacher, do you not care if we perish?»"

Those who have read and reread, "The Story of a Soul" by Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus will probably remember these words of the Saint when she alluded to the gospel of today.  In the first lines of her chapter eight, she says "I should have spoken to you about the retreat preceding my Profession... it was far from bringing me any consolations since the most absolute aridity and almost total abandonment were my lot.  Jesus was sleeping as usual in my little boat."  When we experience some difficulties, some trials, some torments, our first reaction is to think that Jesus sleeps and that he doesn't do anything to alleviate our embarrassment. We look at the events of the world and we ask ourselves, sometimes with indignation, why doesn't God do anything in order to prevent such a drama or catastrophe?  We shout then toward the Lord, as though to wake him up and to ask him to act, as though he wasn't always attentive to our needs in his eternal Providence.  We wake Jesus up, just as the apostles woke Him.

"He awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, «Peace! Be still!»  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  He said to them, «Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?»"

Little Theresa continued her narration, saying: "Ah!  I see very well how rarely souls allow Him to sleep peacefully within them."  It is indeed our common attitude.  We wake Jesus up, instead of allowing him to sleep in us.  We are afraid of what could happen to us when danger threatens us, instead of being confident that the Lord is with us and resting in our hearts.  Maybe we took the Lord with us, but our minds, our souls, are elsewhere.  Jesus is inside us, yet, we search for him where we could not find him!  Then, could it not happen that we, too, might hear the Lord's reproach, "Have you no faith?"

Let us believe in God who is almighty and who can do all things to save us!  Jesus showed his omnipotence in many ways.  Today, he asks us to believe that he could pacify the sea and calm the storm.  Ask the Most Holy Virgin Mary, who believed in all the words which were said her by the Lord (cf. Luke 1:45), to help us by her intercession with the Lord.  May this be the fruit of our communion of today .


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