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Twelfth Sunday – Year B – Ordinary Time
Readings: Job 38:1, 8-11; 2 Cor 5:14-17; Mk 4:35-41.
1/ First Reading:RSV Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind: 8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth from the womb; 9 when I made clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band, 10 and prescribed bounds for it, and set bars and doors, 11 and said, `Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?
2/ Second Reading: RSV 2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.
3/ Gospel:RSV Mark 4:35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” 41 And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”
THEME: God has power over all storms.
Though human beings progressed very much in space (airplane, spacecraft, satellite), in navigation (warship, submarine, liner), and on road (car, train, high speed tram); but when they must face a volcano, an earthquake, a hurricane or a storm, they have no solution for them. Although they invented equipment to foreknow when these calamities shall happen and even their intensity, people can’t do anything to prevent these calamities to happen.
Today readings want to show God’s power over hurricanes and storms. In the first reading, Job was struggled with the question that why a good people like him was suffered and he wanted to have an answer from God. To answer him, God wanted him to meditate about the divine power over seas and storms. This is just an example in countless things to show God’s power and providence which people’s mind can’t fathom it. In the second reading, St. Paul gave us another great thing which people can’t fathom it: God’s love for people through Christ’s death. This love has power to transform people to new creatures in order to meet God’s requirements which they can’t overcome by their own power. In the Gospel, Jesus’ disciples startled at Jesus’ power because with his command, the great storm of the sea was quiet completely. Jesus reminded them that they need to have a firm faith in such a difficult situation.
1/ Reading I: People should not question about God’s providence.
1.1/ Job couldn’t understand why a good person is suffered: The Book of Job was written about the second or third century before Christ. During this period, people still had no clear idea about the eternal life as us now. To them, all what people can hope for are limited to the present life such as: richness, a long life, health and many children. Job was considered a righteous man; he feared God and lived according to His way. He didn’t know that Satan, permitted by God, to take away all which Job had possessed: richness, health and his children. The audience knows from the beginning of the Book about the purpose of this test. Satan challenged God that the reason why Job revered God is due to His blessing and protection, while God believes that Job loves him sincerely. The test is the opportunity to test Job’s faith. Job didn’t know anything about God’s and Satan’s intentions. Like many contemporary people, Job can’t fathom why good people suffered and why faith needs to be tested. Job’s friends tried to convince him that the reason for his suffering is due to his or his children’s or his parents’ sins. Job didn’t accept their argument because he didn’t commit sins and tried to educate his children according to God’s way. He wished to have an answer which directly comes from God.
1.2/ God’s answer for Job: An example which God gave to Job to think about is His power over seas and storms which people are always feared and completely powerless. In God’s providence, He outlines the followings:
(1) He sets right amount water for rivers and seas: The author writes, “Who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth from the womb?” If water raise too high, it shall cause great damages for people and their environment. The Great Flood is a typical example. The author of Psalm 33, verse 7, also meditated about this problem and wrote, “He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle; he put the deeps in storehouses.”
(2) He establishes four seasons to continue after one another: The author writes, “When I made clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band.” In God’s providence, rain and sunshine must be controlled. When the weather is too hot, the earth shall be dried and hard for planting, and the results are shortage of food and causing people to die. Similarly, when it is too much rain or cold, it shall cause flooding and destroy harvests. The same results shall happen.
(3) He sets boundaries for the sea: The author writes, He “prescribed bounds for it, and set bars and doors,and said, `Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’.” When we walk on beaches or seashores, we can be surprised because of the sea’s boundary. Though the high and the low tide are different, the waves which come from the sea still have their limit. When this limit is overcome, it shall cause great damages for human beings.
2/ Reading II: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”
2.1/ God’s love is expressed through Christ: In the area of love, God’s providence is even greater. Christ expressed God’s love as follow: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). Human beings can’t fathom why God so loved the world he gave His only Son to die for them. Why such a powerful God doesn’t use His power in place of the way of the cross to save people?
People don’t understand that love demands sacrifice; in other words, sacrifice is needed to express love—the greater sacrifice the greater love. When people felt God’s love for them, they shall find all ways to return their love for Him, as Paul experienced, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.” St. Paul clearly realized that people must die to sin so that to live for God. When people were immersed in the water of Baptism, people took off their old self together with all their sins; so that when they rose up from the water, they put on Christ and become the new creatures with all Christ’s virtues and love. Therefore, people have the strength to live as him, “And he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” If people shared in Christ’s suffering, they shall also share in eternal life and his glory.
2.2/ God’s love has power to transform people to new creatures: St. Paul’s experience about the sudden change when people possess Christ, urged him to write the following, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer.”
– St. Paul once knew Christ according to human viewpoint as the instigator who told people to violate the law and to opposite the ancestors’ tradition. That is the reason why he eagerly persecuted the Christians and put them in prison.
– When he received Christ’s revelation on the way to Damascus, he became a new creature and did the opposite work. From that time, he became the preacher who eagerly preaches Christ and the Good News for people though he must endure many sufferings and persecutions.
St. Paul confirms: ”Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” When people are permeated with Christ’s love and doctrines, they become preachers to proclaim God’s love and treat others as God’s children and Christ’s brothers and sisters.
3/ Gospel: “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”
3.1/ People’s reaction when they face the sea’s storm: Their first reaction is to fear because it threatens to take away their life. In the past, many fishermen worshiped gods of river and sea so that they might be protected from storms and hurricanes during their fishing.
(1) The disciples’ reaction: St. Mark reported, “And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling…They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?””
(2) Jesus’ reaction: In opposition to the disciples’ reaction, Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. They couldn’t believe that Jesus can sleep in such a heavy storm and great waves. They woke him up and asked him to do something. Jesus awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
While the disciples were still startled, Jesus said to them, “”Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?”Jesus always reminds them to have a strong faith to overcome all doubts and hardships. When people have a strong faith, they shall no longer fear. The disciple should know that they were having a powerful God with them, they shouldn’t be fearful. But because they did not completely believe in him; that why “they were filled with awe, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?””
3.2/ People’s reactions when they face fears, worries and sufferings from the world: Many authors compared a person’s life as a boat sailing on a sea; and storms and waves as hardships which people must be constantly faced. These hardships can be wars, catastrophes, sickness, hunger, separation, persecution and misunderstanding. How can people find their strength to overcome all kinds of hardships in their life?
First of all, they must have a firm faith in God, as Jesus reminded his disciples, “Take courage! Do not be afraid! I conquered the world.” No power from the devil or the world can win over God’s power. Next, we must completely put our hope in God’s love and providence. He knows all what we are concerning and worrying. As our Father, He shall take care and give all necessary graces for us, our family and those who we pray for. The only thing we should do is to love God above all things and to love others as ourselves; the rest will be cared by God.
APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– God has authority over all devil and worldly powers; therefore, we must absolutely believe in God’s love and providence.
– Christ is the difference of our life. If we put on Christ, He shall transform us to complete new creatures, those who can do things that exceed our human limitations.
– When we face the hardships of life and also storms of seas, we need to have a firm faith in God and an unshakeable hope in His love for us.