ALMOST AT THE SHORE
TWELFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – B
Jb 38:1, 8-11; Psalm 107; 2 Cor 5:14-17; Mk 4:35-41
In today’s Gospel passage Jesus is about to go into new territory. He is taking his disciples across a lake to a region that is unfamiliar for the disciples. It is not Jewish land, and there are not Jewish people there. But alongside that, we are going to see that Jesus is going into new territory spiritually. You know, as Jesus’ disciples, we too are called to enter a new spiritual territory. Actually, as Holy Angels Church we have already been in a new spiritual territory from the very beginning of our journey, forced to meet and worship only virtually due to the pandemic. That was something new for all of us. And now, once again we are about to enter a new spiritual territory for Holy Angels Church, as we are called to start to be a church living in the territory, in Santa Ana and North Tustin—in fact, all of Orange County. As you see, you and I are on a journey with Jesus. He leads us to new places, maybe new frontiers. And as Jesus leads his disciples and his followers into new territory, they go on a journey which they discover is quite challenging: spiritually, emotionally, physically, and also economically challenging, even demanding. It is indeed. We know that in order to enter new territory we face challenges. We know there are storms whose waves break over the boat sometimes, as it happened in the lake of Galilee. But Jesus has taught us that if he is with us our boat will never sink, and our church will not fail!
However, today’s Gospel passage says that there is fear in the storm. Why? Because Jesus is sleeping. Jesus may be so confident—and he is so confident—in God’s power and his presence that he can rest on a cushion because they are just going to the other side of the lake. But the disciples are feeling they are on the edge of their lives here, and they feel that Jesus is being distant and passive in the midst of all they are going through. But, as the Gospel says, Jesus woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea: “Quiet! Be still!” The storm vanished, there was great calm and Jesus asked them, “Do you not yet have faith?” You know, on one level, it’s a real clear thing why they were afraid. They were drowning—they were about to drown. But Jesus asked that question because he had said at the very beginning of the journey: “Let us go over to the other side.” He said: “We are going to the other side of the lake. Do you believe me yet? Can you trust in the word I give you yet? Can you believe that if I am calm in your storm it’s because I’ve got this, and I’ve got you?” When I had to start a new path in the Seminary, I was enthusiastic but also anxious and often uncomfortable about the thought that I had to move forward without the certainty of doing it right. I remember my spiritual director telling me: “Gianni, don’t doubt in the dark of fear what you heard in the light of faith. God is a father. God’s hold on you is stronger than your hold on him, and he has no intention of letting you go. Just trust him and keep going.” God is our Father. And by the way, I wish all who are a father a very blessed Father’s day. God is our Father. Can we believe God yet? Can we believe that he is bigger than our biggest storm? Can we believe that he doesn’t rebuke us—he rebukes the storm? That he is bigger than our deepest fear, stronger than our greatest enemy, because he is God?
It’s a challenge, isn’t it? An exciting challenge of faith. I think that Jesus is asking us today what we heard before we got in the lake. I mean, what did we hear before the storm of the pandemic? That it was time for you to start a church, a place to heal together and to grow in faith, friendship and love. That it was time for us to go across the lake. Then the pandemic arrived, and it seemed almost impossible to get to the other side, achieve our goal, and fulfill our common journey. But we made it, because Jesus has always been in with us during the journey. Never doubt in the dark of fear what you heard in the light of faith! I am sure the Lord wanted us to be born as a community of faith in the worst moment ever for the world. Maybe he wanted us to have the same experience his first disciples had. He wanted to let them—and us grow spiritually, showing that he has the power to realize what he had promised, to them—and to us. And here we are now. Almost ready to get to the shore of a new territory. The territory God chose for us from the very beginning of our journey, more than one year and a half ago. The territory where we are blessed to be called and to live as a real Church.
And this, my brothers and sisters, is the Gospel of the Lord.
Fr. Gianni Passarella