June 21, 2015

June 21, 2015

A lot of people are intrigued by weather.  Perhaps it’s the power of nature.  Or maybe it’s the fact that despite all of our technological advances, the weather is something we still have no control over.  And even despite our best efforts, the weather can have quite an effect on our lives: ruining plans, damaging property, sometimes even causing harm or loss of life.  Talking about the weather is a typical conversation starter with strangers, and complaining about it for some reason seems to bring the human family closer together.  Many of us probably know someone whom we would diagnose as being “addicted” to The Weather Channel.  A lot of folks like to watch storms, and a few crazy blokes make a hobby out of “chasing” them.  When storms come, we can’t do anything to stop them.  The best we can do is…well, to “weather” them. 

Our 1st Reading and Gospel passage today center around a storm on the sea.  In our own present culture, we value waterfront property and seek out oceans and lakes as vacation spots.  But in ancient and biblical times, the sea was a primary symbol for chaos and evil; it was where monsters came from.  Especially with a storm on it, the sea was angry, hostile, and unruly.  Even today, the Sea of Galilee that Jesus and His disciples were on can get rough and stormy pretty quickly.  But as the Lord says to Job, and as Jesus shows his disciples, God has control over the sea and the storm.  Brothers and sisters, this is good news for us!  God is victorious over evil; God has control over chaos!

In our own lives, many “storms” can rage both outside of us and inside of us.  From the outside we can face difficulties and hardships, hostility and injustice, judgment and oppression, misunderstanding and criticism, a difficult transition, or the challenge of poor health.  On the inside we can be bombarded by waves of anger and resentment, loneliness, anxiety, fear, doubt, despair, shame, and even sin.  But none of this chaos is too much for the God of all creation, the Lord of heaven and earth.  Our Scriptures today tell us that if God can direct the forces of nature, He can direct us and our lives; if Jesus can bring calm to the storm, He can bring calm to our lives. 

But first we, like the disciples, need to recognize who God is, trusting in the power of His Word and of His presence and of His loving care for us.  [We can think, for example, of the members of the congregation that experienced the shooting in their church this last week.  In the midst of their pain and anger, they’ve also forgiven the assailant and desire his conversion.]  In stormy times (and they do come), it can indeed seem that God is asleep, or at least unaware of and unresponsive to our needs.  It’s not unlikely that perhaps each of us, too, at some point has asked of the Lord, “Do you not care that we are perishing?”  But God is not likely to calm the storm without our help, without our turning to Him, without trusting in His presence.  Jesus is asleep not because He doesn’t care, but because He is our peace in the midst of the storm/in the midst of the chaos/in the midst of the suffering.  Or maybe, as St. Augustine would say, the presence of Christ is asleep within us.  And so he says, “Rouse him, then; remember Christ, let Christ awake within you, give heed to him.”  

God has power over those things that cause fear and distress.  And the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus have conquered sin and even death.  St. Paul writes, “The love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all.”  In dying to ourselves, we live then for Christ.  And “whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”  The love of Christ completely transforms us; it doesn’t just return things to the way they were before (like with Jesus and His disciples on the sea).

In the Eucharist/in the sacrifice of the Mass, Christ enters into our midst, brining His healing and transforming presence and power into our lives in a most special and real way.  (And of course this happens through the other sacraments as well.)  By the Cross we are set free; through the Cross we are made new; by His wounds we are healed.   Even in the midst of the storm we can give thanks to the Lord, for His love is everlasting.