Homily for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ayvazovskiy Ships at the Raging Sea

Homily for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Even if we have never sailed on any sea, ocean or lake during a storm, and we have never experienced any serious danger or threat to our life; even if the present rainy weather is much better than that described in the Gospel, we can easily imagine what the Apostles felt in this particular dramatic scene described by Saint Mark. I don’t know about you, but I think my reaction would be very similar to that of the Apostles, especially since I am not a good swimmer. I think in such a situation I would also panic – and maybe even more than they did – and like them I would try to do everything I can to save my own life. However, I think the most important message of this particular Word of God is very simple, easy to understand and optimistic at the same time.

Let us see that also in our lives there are such moments when we think that Jesus has fallen asleep, He is resting and is not at all interested in what is happening to us, even if we are in serious danger or if we are struggling with really big problems. I think that especially during the ongoing pandemic, many people around the world have been asking God the same or a similar question: Master, do you not care? We are going down! This wave that hits the boats of our lives – especially at this time – could be another wave of the pandemic, or something else that scares us and causes us deep anxiety and fear. Perhaps when we heard so much bad news from radio, television or the Internet, sometimes our attitude was similar to that of the apostles, and then our prayer became a desperate cry for help: Master, do you not care? We are going down!

Let’s see once again what Jesus did at this particular and dramatic moment and what His reaction was. As we’ve heard He didn’t ignore the cries of the Apostles who tried to do their best to avoid disaster and save their lives, being concerned also for their loved ones. Jesus didn’t rebuke His disciples for interrupting His sleep and well-deserved rest after another busy and exhausting day among the crowds. He was not angry with them at all, because He knew and understood that they were ordinary people with all the human weaknesses, fears and doubts that we also experience on our journey of faith.

Today, when we ponder this gospel – which is slightly different from the previous ones because, as we have heard, it is an action packed-gospel – we are invited to ask ourselves what are the waves that hit very violently at times the little boats of our lives? What are the waves that cause our greatest fears, terrors and panic? What makes us frightened despite the fact that – as disciples of Jesus – we should be aware of, that in the boats of our lives we are not alone, that there is Someone who is much more powerful than any waves and storms, and no matter if they are the next waves of the pandemic or other evil and danger that disturb our peaceful lives. I don’t know about you, but I have experienced such situations many times in my life – as a priest and also before I became a priest – when my only prayer was very similar to what we heard in today’s gospel: Master, do you not care? I am going down! But today – in retrospect – I am convinced that God has always been present in the boat of my life, always ready to wake up and to get up and to come to my aid, sooner or later but always, even in the most dramatic situation.

Today Jesus wants to tell us all that no wave, no pandemic, no disease, no tragedy, evil or even death, can make the boat of our lives sink, which means that nothing can take away our hope which we place in God and nothing can cause us despair. As disciples of Jesus, we must remember that He is always present and always active first in the greatest boat which is the community of the Church, but also in all these little boats of our lives that get lost at times trying to find the right way and the right direction in these difficult times we live in. He is also present in all those different: small, medium and large boats that are our families – sometimes gently swayed but sometimes brutally tossed and shaken by various waves of quarrels, conflicts and divisions that seem stronger than all the bonds that bind us together.

Today I would like to encourage you to think for a moment and answer a simple question: What are the most dangerous and disruptive waves that hit the boats of your lives and what causes us fear and paralyzes our whole lives? Let us think about it and ask Jesus to be with us in all these difficult and dramatic moments of storms and anxiety, so that looking at the example of the Apostles from today’s Gospel, we would never doubt His power and concern for our lives and future.

Fr Gregory

Painting: Ayvazovskiy Ships at the Raging Sea