12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 20 at St. Francis Xavier Parish
As we continue into the second half of the month of June and celebrate the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, I would like to provide you with a reflection that can help us to enter into our Sunday readings:
“Mark is writing his gospel for a community suffering persecution, Christians who feared that any day they might be overwhelmed by either the waves of their own cowardice and infidelity to Christ, or blown off their Christian course by the fear of imprisonment and death. They could be tempted to believe that Jesus is “asleep” and cares nothing for them. In different contexts, we too are familiar with the storms that can brew in our own hearts. The struggle between fear and faith is a constant theme in Mark’s gospel, continuing until the very last verse (Mark 16:8), but that we have a Gospel according to Mark witnesses to the final triumph of faith. Among these disciples are men who know this sea well, and for them to be afraid shows that their fear was humanly well founded. Although they have seen Jesus’s power over the chaos that overwhelms people’s bodies and minds, this crossing had been Jesus’s idea, and their cries to him sound more like accusations of his lack of care for them than proclamations of their faith in him.
In the image of Jesus peacefully asleep in the storm-tossed boat there may be the memory of Jonah fast asleep in the bowels of the ship while God hurled great winds and waves at the vessel carrying the disobedient prophet away from his calling to the conversion of Nineveh (Jonah 1:4-15). Jonah has to resort to the much more dramatic and drastic solution of allowing himself to be tossed overboard before God will calm the storm. In contrast, Jesus rises from sleep, and the brief and powerful words of this most obedient prophet of God are enough to restore order out of chaos. Jesus rebukes the wind and the sea in the same way as he had “rebuked” or exorcised the “unclean spirit” and healed the tortured psyche of the man in the synagogue in Mark’s account of Jesus’s first miracles (Mark 1:23-27). And there comes a great calm.
Jesus’s authority over the natural world confronts our faith in an unsettling way. As Michael Casey writes: “We do not mind a man forgiving sins, because the supposed effect is invisible and beyond proof. Cures can be dismissed as merely ‘psychological.’ Our weak faith can dodge the question if there is some possibility of a ‘rational’ explanation. The nature miracles are different. They confront our faith directly” (Fully Human, Fully Divine).
Jesus’s authority over the storm reveals him as Lord of Creation, and recalls the divine authority over the chaotic waters “in the beginning” (Gen 1:1) and when God divided the waters to allow the people to pass through from slavery into freedom (Exod 14-15). This divine prerogative is also praised in a number of the psalms, including Psalm 107, which is today’s responsorial psalm. But the disciples are looking and not perceiving, listening and not understanding, despite the privileged instruction Jesus has given them (cf. Mark 4:10- 12). Jesus’s command of peace and stillness over the wind and waves assures the disciples’ safe crossing, but their crossing from fear to faith is at a perilous beginning point. At least Jesus seems to suggest that the journey is possible. “Do you not yet have faith?” But the disciples turn to one another, not to Jesus, with their questions about his identity.
The Jesus who has risen from the sleep of death is the faithful hope of every disciple and postresurrection community. Often the storms sweep down on us as suddenly as the wind and waves on the Sea of Galilee, and we find ourselves unprepared for sickness, for a terminal diagnosis for ourselves or a loved one, for the upheaval of personal relations, the painful work of retrenchment. The mass media brings tragedies into our homes, and we may find ourselves saying: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Yet Jesus is present in the storms and will bring us to the shore of new beginnings and new initiatives.” (Living Liturgy 2021)
Today (Friday) our Diocese released a pastoral letter from His Excellency Bishop Douglas Crosby, OMI, to the faithful of the Diocese of Hamilton regarding the recent discovery of the unmarked graves of children at the former Kamloops Residential School. The Letter can be accessed at the Diocesan website here and also will be posted in our online bulletin tomorrow (Saturday).
On Tuesday of this week we celebrated the funeral Mass for the soul of Carmelo Mulay. As always, I invite you to pray for the one who has passed away, for the repose of his soul, and to keep his family in your prayers as well. Lord God, whose days are without end and whose mercies beyond counting, keep us mindful that life is short and the hour of death unknown. Let your Spirit guide our days on earth in the ways of holiness and justice, that we may serve you in union with the whole Church, sure in faith, strong in hope, perfected in love. And when our early journey is ended, lead us rejoicing into your kingdom, where you live for ever and ever. Amen.
We are continuing to hold online gatherings on Zoom to help parishioners stay connected during this time when our regular ministries and programs can not take place in person. This week’s gatherings are Coffee With the Clergy on Monday evening (hosted by Deacon Brian), Game Night on Wednesday evening (hosted by Youth Ministry), and the praying of the Rosary on Thursday evening (hosted by Youth Ministry). Please visit the online bulletin for more details, and contact Wes at email@example.com if you would like the Zoom invite for any of these gatherings.
Registration is now open for our summer online activities for students! This summer we will be holding two weeks of an online mini-camp for students entering Grades 3-6 in the fall. Each day of camp will focus on a different saint and will include games, prayer, videos, crafts, and outdoor activities! Kits with supplies will be delivered to campers in advance. Students going into Grades 7 and up can volunteer as leaders!
We will also be having an online evening series for those entering Grades 7-12 called Coffee with Jesus. Through stories from Scripture, videos, small group conversations, prayer, and games, this 4-part series will encourage participants to accept Jesus’ invitation to be refreshed and renewed by their relationship with him! More information for both of these online activities, as well as registration forms, can be found here.
Just a reminder that the Lord’s Day Masses have resumed at the regular times: 5:30PM Saturday and 9:00AM and 11:00AM Sunday. The 4:00PM Mass is taking a summer break as always at this time. For parishioners who cannot be with us in person, we livestream the 9:00AM Sunday Mass on our YouTube channel.
We wish a happy and blessed Father’s Day to all of the dads and father figures in our lives!
God bless, everyone.