Right on Time

June 23, 2024 | N W | Comfort, Courage, Faith, Guest Celebrants, Trust

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 23, 2024 — Year B
Readings: Jb 38:1, 8-11 / Ps 107 / 2 Cor 5:14-17 / Mk 4:35-41
by Rev. Louis Benoit, Guest Celebrant

Today’s gospel has a few meanings.  One meaning is that Jesus is the fulfillment of God in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, especially in the book of Psalms, like the psalm we just heard, we hear how God is over all creation and over the storms and the winds, with God having domination over all those things.  So, we see Jesus fulfilling these Old Testament aspects of God, being creator and domineering over all.

Also, at the beginning of Mark’s gospel, we are told who Jesus is.  However, for Jesus’ followers, that gradually unfolds as the gospel goes on.  As they see Jesus doing various things, it deepens their faith in who Jesus is.

And so, we have, at the last line of today’s gospel, “Who then is this, whom even the wind and sea obey?”  It’s the deeper knowledge of who Jesus is, as they come to a deeper faith in Him.  For the apostles, it’s a deepening of faith.  And it’s a faith that needs to be deepened.  He asked them, “Why are you terrified?  Do you not yet have faith?”  And that’s not just an admonition, but it’s calling them into deeper faith in who Jesus is, and of course, they are questioning it.

Who then is this, whom even the winds and sea obey?  Now, for us, it’s a very good gospel.  How many times in your life have you felt you were in your own little boat on rough seas and by yourself, and you don’t know where to turn?  I think anyone who has logged in some adult years can identify times when that has happened.  And yet, do you doubt that Jesus is in the boat with you?  I think we do doubt when we are being tossed about by the waves of life, and wondering where God is, but Jesus is with you.

You know, the apostles weren’t too keen on that, but although He was asleep on a cushion, He was with them, and that’s for us to see that Jesus is with us.  And we have things that keep us from that.  We have a peculiar situation in our country that militates against that, that we so over-emphasize independence.  We tend to ignore our dependence on God and others.  And we are very dependent on people.  This over-emphasis on independence is not a good thing, because we are extremely dependent.

You’re dependent on dozens of people every day.  We can’t live alone; it’s impossible.  And so, we have to get that sense of dependence, and many times in a sense of dependence, we find the presence of Jesus in other people around us.  If we get too much into our own independence, we don’t see it.  But Jesus is with us, and many times it’s with the people who are surrounding us.  We’re not as independent as we think.

Years ago, I was chaplain of a Youth Development Center.  It’s kind of a reform school for young men, and many of them were extremely belligerent and believed that they didn’t need anybody and could get by on their own.   So, I played a little game with them.  I said, “Well, if you are so independent, what would you do if you were out in the woods alone?  How would you survive?”  A response might be, “Well, I’d get an axe and I’d chop down some trees.”  I would respond, “Wait, wait, where did you get that axe?  Didn’t somebody provide that for you?”  And as I played that game and kept pushing it, and they realized that if they were totally independent, they’d be standing naked in the woods.

We’re terribly dependent, and we really need Jesus, and we really need each other, and sometimes “each other” is the presence of Jesus.  That’s the way it is, and we have to realize our dependence on Jesus, and that Jesus is with us to calm the storms of life.

The other aspect of this, a totally different aspect but a very important one, is that it’s God’s creation, not ours.  We have a terrible time with this.  But God is the one who is running the show, not us.  And we have to learn to be able to discern God’s action in our lives and what that action is calling us to.

I know that almost any of you my age or even a bit younger can recall times in your life when things happened that you hadn’t planned, but it worked out for the best.  You know, God was working, and it was God’s plan, not yours.  And so, it’s for us to see that no, we’re not running the show, and when we try to run the show, we can end up feeling very alone, swamped by the waves of life.  We are trying to run everything ourselves, and we do the best we can with life, but always with an openness to God’s presence, God’s plan, and God’s direction.  It’s God’s, not ours.

I love an old spiritual that the gospel choir at St. Gerard’s used to sing.  The chorus of the song says, “He ain’t always there when you want Him, but He’s always right on time.”  That’s a bit humorous, but it’s quite profound.  You know, He ain’t always there when you want Him, but He’s always right on time.

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