Saturday, June 20, 2015

The storms of life

12th Sunday of OT Year B 2015
Jesus is the Lord of heaven and earth: who is this that even the wind and sea obeys.  I don’t know about you, but with all the rain the last couple weeks I have felt like the disciples: Lord, don’t you care that we are perishing?
This passage helps us to see that Jesus is who we say he is.  The disciples are starting to understand that there is something more here than just a simple man from Nazareth.  Even the apostles had to grow in their faith.
That is comforting for all of us.   We too need to grow in our faith.  Last week we talked about faith growing like the mustard seed.  The seed is a great analogy for faith, it starts out small, but grows over time.  Yet, why is it so important for our faith to grow?  Jesus says in the gospel: why are you terrified?  Don’t you have faith?  Faith takes away our fear.  Faith helps us to trust even when it is difficult.
As we all know, life is not all gumdrops and rainbows.  Pain, suffering, temptation, and hardship are a part of our lives.  Maybe not every day, but I do think that all of us have those difficult moments.  We have parishioners here going through all kinds of difficulties: physical ailments and diseases, the pain and grief of losing a loved one, the difficulty of losing a job, and just the stress and fatigue that seems to follow us wherever we go.  There is always bad news in the world around us too: think about the shooting this week, or ISIS or whatever.  It can be tempting to get cynical: everything is bad and that’s all there is to say about it.  Or even to doubt God: why would God let bad things happen to good people?  This is a question as old as humanity itself.  The story of Job from the first reading is probably 2600 years old.  What is the story?  How a man responds to evil being inflicted upon him.  He was a good person, but bad things befell him… really bad things.
So, if you have ever wondered why, you are in good company.  Now, I wish I had a great answer, but I don’t.  I know that a lot of people like to say that God has a plan when bad things happen.  But, something about that never seems quite right to me.  I don’t like the idea of God inflicting bad things upon us so that good things happen.  I like to think that God is more powerful than that.  He could just skip the middle and go right to the good things.  Also, we never want to say that God is the author of evil.  We know that he is all-good, there is no darkness in him at all.  Sure, God is all-powerful, so he could interrupt the natural world every time something evil is about to take place, but that doesn’t mean he causes evil.  Still, we are often faced with that question: why?  We might feel like the apostles: Lord, don’t you care that we are perishing.
But, stop for a moment and let Jesus answer that question: Lord, do you care?   Of course he does.  If Jesus didn’t care, would he have become one of us?  If Jesus didn’t care, would have shared with us the Good news?  If Jesus didn’t care, would he have died on the cross for us?  Would he have given us the Eucharist as his lasting presence?  Of course Jesus cares.  All too often, when we are faced with difficulties in our lives, we want to ask the question why.  But, there really isn’t a satisfying answer as to why we suffer, why there is pain.  But, there is a great answer to the question: what.  In other words, instead of asking God why this stuff happens, we should ask God what he did in response to the pain and suffering of the human race.  His answer: he sent Jesus.  As St. Paul says today: he indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves.  Jesus died, so that we might live. 

This doesn’t mean that the Christian life is a life without pain, suffering, or temptation.  We might experience those storms.  It might seem like Jesus is asleep below decks.  But, taking our cue from the apostles, we call upon him: Lord, don’t you care that we are perishing?  Asking that question in the midst of our difficulties is another way for us to grow in our faith.  When we ask that question during our difficult moments, we are inviting Christ into our daily lives.  He doesn’t always make the wind and rain stop that instant, but if we turn to him, he will always give us the strength to withstand whatever storms we might face in this life.

1 comment:

  1. Reasons to Believe in Jesus

    Reasons to believe Jesus is alive in a new life with God can be found in quotes from two prominent atheists and a biology textbook.

    Thus the passion of man is the reverse of that of Christ, for man loses himself as man in order that God may be born. But the idea of God is contradictory and we lose ourselves in vain. Man is a useless passion. (Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, New York: Washington Square Press, p. 784)

    Among the traditional candidates for comprehensive understanding of the relation of mind to the physical world, I believe the weight of evidence favors some from of neutral monism over the traditional alternatives of materialism, idealism, and dualism. (Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, location 69 of 1831)

    And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. To most biologists, the brain and the mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we’ll understand such mindful functions as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind, finding Descartes’ concept of a mind-body duality more attractive. (Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th edition, p. 776 )

    Sartre speaks of the "passion of man," not the passion of Christians. He is acknowledging that all religions east and west believe there is a transcendental reality and that perfect fulfillment comes from being united with this reality after we die. He then defines this passion with a reference to Christian doctrine which means he is acknowledging the historical reasons for believing in Jesus. He does not deny God exists. He is only saying the concept of God is contradictory. He then admits that since life ends in the grave, it has no meaning.

    From the title of the book, you can see that Nagel understands that humans are embodied sprits and that the humans soul is spiritual. He says, however, that dualism and idealism are "traditional" alternatives to materialism. Dualism and idealism are just bright ideas from Descartes and Berkeley. The traditional alternative to materialism is monism. According to Thomas Aquinas unity is the transcendental property of being. Campbell does not even grasp the concept of monism. The only theories he grasps are dualism and materialism.

    If all atheists were like Sartre, it would be an obstacle to faith. An important reason to believe in Jesus is that practically all atheists are like Nagel and Campbell, not like Sartre.

    by David Roemer