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.