· Vatican City ·

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time: 23 June

What storms reveal

 What storms reveal  ING-025
21 June 2024

After much teaching and ministering to the people, Jesus desired rest for his disciples and himself, “Let us cross to the other side” (Mk 4:35). Regimius of Auxerre noted how our Lord consistently used these places as refuge: ship, mountain, and desert. This well-deserved respite proved to be short-lived as a powerful storm developed to the point that expert fishermen began to be fearful for their lives. Jesus seemed to be perfectly tranquil, sleeping on a cushion in the stern.

Storms are natural; they happen in nature and in life. Their timing is not always convenient. Why does God allow them to take place? What do they reveal? Every event of Scripture reveals something about us, God and the world; this episode is not an exception.

Storms remind us that we are not in control; they don’t require our permission to start. This is also true regarding the opinions and actions of others. No amount of personal stress or drama will change what is outside our control. When these temptations arise, Jesus has prudently reminded us, “Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?” (Mt 6:27).

Natural storms can strip homes, trees and infrastructures. Storms and moments of stress do something similar to us; they strip us of our pretensions and reveal the foundation of our identity, whatever state it may be. Grief, seasons of despair, loneliness, anger, financial setbacks, health scares, and exhaustion reveal very quickly the shallowness of things and certain relationships. Like the disciples, they may also reveal a weakness of faith that we were never fully aware of in the past. The acknowledgment of weakness is the beginning of strength. Scripture continually reminds us that the proud will be humbled while the humble will be lifted up (cf. Is 2:11, Mt 23:12, Lk 1:52) and God does not spurn the contrite heart (Ps 51:17).

Lastly, storms reveal the power and presence of God. Yes, there is destruction, but healing also comes; this is true in nature as well as in our life with God. In this particular episode, Jesus’ sleeping allowed the disciples a glimpse into the glory that Jesus possessed, “For if He had been awake, they would either not have feared, nor have asked Him to save them when the storm arose, or they would not have thought that He could do any such things” (Chrysostom). At the sight of the miracle, the disciples were completely awed by this new revelation of glory, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” (Mk 4:41) God is God even when he sleeps. We are reminded of the words of the psalmist, “Your guard will never slumber. No he sleeps not nor slumbers, Israel’s guard” (Ps 121:4).

Storms of life will come. They are moments of revelation; and the greatest of these is that God is with us. So take courage and be not afraid.

*  Abbot of St. Martin Abbey
Lacey, Washington

By Fr Marion Nguyen, osb *