Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time | June 20/21, 2015
PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the readings here. This week’s homily is based on the Gospel reading.
Earlier this week, I learned that dear friends of mine were given some terrible news. My friend was given less than 6 months to live, after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. His wife is now faced with the reality of raising her two teenage sons without their father.
As you can imagine, my mind kept drifting back to this family, even as I went to celebrate with my own family at a family wedding.
As I sat there listening to the words that we have all heard so many times, I couldn’t help but think about my friends.
When they spoke those words, for better or worse, could they have even imagined this possibility?
When they stood before the altar and pledged their lives to one another, could they have even envisioned the storm that they would one day need to face?
Whether they ever imagined this scenario or not, my friends are now faced with a storm beyond their control.
Like the disciples in the boat, they are caught in the midst of forces that threaten to tear apart all that they hold dear.
Like the disciples, they too are crying out. Seeking a God who can calm the seas. Seeking a God who can dispel the storm.
And in their struggle, I can’t help but join in their cry. Where are you? Where are you in their pain? Where are you in their struggle?
My friends may be just one couple in the midst of a storm. But their questions are echoed by each of us throughout our lives.
Where are you when their marriage is falling apart or when her parents are fighting again?
Where were you when his brother overdosed or when his girlfriend got pregnant?
Where are you when they can’t pay the bills? Where are you when their mom no longer remembers who they are?
Where were you when your children were gunned down in a church reflecting on your word?
Like the disciples, I want to shake our Lord and shout . . . Do you not see?
Do you not see the violence tearing apart our cities? Do you not see the bloated bellies of starving children cradled in their mother’s arms? Do you not see the weapons of war that wait ready to annihilate life as we know it?
Do you not see what we are doing to this planet? Do you not see what we are doing to each other? Do you not see what we are doing to ourselves?
And, if I am honest with myself, I expect that God will hear my cry and do something about it.
That he will swoop down and dispel the storm, that he will calm the sea.
But, in reading the Gospel once again, I realized that I had become as blind as the disciples.
See I was still looking at this Gospel as if it was primarily about the storm and Jesus. As if this reading was simply an opportunity for Jesus to showcase God’s power. But at the end of the day, I came to realize that this Gospel is ultimately about the disciples.
It was about their fear.
It was about their faith.
Now, in fairness, I don’t think the disciples quite got it either. They too were so caught up in the miracle that they missed an opportunity for Christ to dispel the storms raging within. He may have calmed the seas, but they did not let him calm their hearts.
And so when the next storm would come, the disciples would still be afraid.
See, Jesus never promises that storms will not come. Jesus never promises that every storm will be dispelled. On the contrary, Jesus’ life is a testament to the fact that we will all face storms in our lives.
Instead, what Jesus does promise is peace.
Peace that will free our hearts from fear. Peace that will allow us to face any storm.
Peace that will give us the strength to survive what we never thought we could overcome.
Peace that will give one the strength to say I forgive you, even in the face of the most heinous of crimes.
Peace that will give one the strength to carry on in the struggle to end poverty and war, prejudice and exploitation. No matter how much failure one will face. No matter how insignificant one’s efforts may seem.
Peace that will give us the strength to grieve for what has been lost without surrendering to despair.
Peace that will give us the strength be someone else’s calm. To be their rock in the midst of their storm. To be Christ to another who is desperately crying out in their storm.
Where is Christ my friends?
He is still with us in our boats. He is still with us in our hearts. He is still with us in each other.
Do not be afraid.
Christ is here.
May God be Praised.