Homily for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
At various points in our lives, each of us endures hardship of some kind – we all have to journey through the storms that arise. Some of those storms are like the fairly frequent Florida afternoon thunderstorms that come up unexpectedly: a devastating cancer diagnosis, the loss of a job, the sudden death of a loved one. Other storms can be like a hurricane, something that we see coming and are able to somewhat prepare for: caring for a loved one battling a prolonged illness, fighting to overcome habitual sin, struggling to discover our place in the world. Whatever those storms might be, do we have the faith to recognize the presence of Jesus in the midst of them? That is the question that we are being invited to reflect on this weekend.
I think most of us have the head knowledge that God is always with us in the midst of the challenges that we face in life, but it takes effort to allow that knowledge to sink into our hearts. I know for myself, when I am struggling with something and my life seems out of control, it is often times difficult for me to remember that the Lord is with me. I don’t think I’m unique in that experience. I think most of us feel that way. It has often been said that the journey from head to heart is the one that is the shortest distance but the one that takes the longest time and the most effort to make. It is the journey of faith that each of us has to experience.
That journey is one that is never-ending; we are constantly coming to a deeper knowledge of the Father through His Son, Jesus; we are constantly coming to a deeper sense of faith. For us, that experience parallels the journey of faith that the first disciples went through. They, too, were constantly having to grow in their faith; they, too, struggled to understand all that the Lord was doing in their lives; they, too, were coming to understand who the Father was and how He was leading them into deeper relationship; they, too, sometimes had setbacks in that faith where the Lord had to remind them of where He was in the midst of the storms. What their journey of faith reveals to us is how the Lord can bring us to a deeper encounter with Him even when…especially when…things seem totally out of our control.
Throughout Scripture, we encounter example after example of how God has continually encouraged His people to not lose heart when things seemed dire. In the Old Testament, we see how God constantly saved the Jewish people from captivity, how He rescued them from the brink of destruction, how He sustained them as His chosen ones, and how He called them to conversion through the sending of the prophets. In the New Testament, all of that comes to completion in the person of Jesus, in how God revealed the greatest act of His saving love…by offering His only Son on the cross for us. It is in the suffering and death of Jesus that we find meaning for the hardships that we endure. We are always encouraged to place our trust in Christ because He endured the pain of the cross in order to unite Himself to the sufferings that we experience. We place our trust in Christ because He didn’t abandon His disciples when the boat was being rocked by the wind and the waves.
“In the calming of the storm that we hear in our Gospel today, the apostles witnessed a work that only God can accomplish, which means that Jesus has divine power. At the same time, the miracle shows just how much Jesus cares for his apostles.” This event is meant to be a teaching moment for those who followed Jesus during His ministry, but also for us. It reminds us that God is all powerful, something we are told in our reading from Job – that He is the one who controls and limits everything that we experience – the good and the bad. The calming of the storm reminds us that we can’t know everything that we are going to experience in life but that there is still a sense of hope that can be found within those experiences. Just like the early Church in the days following the crucifixion of Jesus and even the Church in the days following His Ascension, we can sometimes feel that God has abandoned us, that He doesn’t care that we are experiencing hardship. We can feel uncertain about the future, lost and confused; we can feel alone in what we are going through. Despite those feelings, we are called to remember the truth, we are called to have faith in his presence with us and his love and care for us.
The real sign of discipleship is a trust in Jesus and who He is for us. We are challenged to put our faith in Christ even amid the storms that rock our boats. We are challenged to put our faith in Christ when we seem to be sinking. But we can’t wait for those storms to arise before we turn to Him. We have to seek to build our trust and faith in Him when things aren’t going crazy. A lot of times, when things are normal and we seem to be in control of our lives, we tend to forget about God. We think that our faith is firm, that we’re on solid ground, and that we’re always going to be okay. It is only when our boats begin to be rocked that we realize how much faith we actually have.
“The Gospel teaches us that the question in the minds of the disciples, after Jesus calms the storm, is ours as well: “Who is he?” Whether or not we come up with a satisfying answer, we do hear the message of the Gospel today. Jesus is teaching us to stay close to Him. We need to stay close to the one who died and is risen from the dead, this is the way we have security through the most difficult storms; this is our foothold as we struggle with what seems to have no rational or adequate answer.” We accomplish that by learning more about Him by studying the Scriptures, spending time with Him each day in prayer, sharing our hearts with Him in adoration, turning to Him in times of joy, and seeking His guidance in times of doubts. When we do this, we build up our trust that He will be our consolation in times of distress, that He does care for us and has our ultimate safety as His complete concern.
As He did then with His disciples, so now He does with us. Jesus is standing before us today and is asking: “Why are you afraid? Don’t you see that I am with you?” When the storms of life come our way, do we have faith that Jesus is with us in the midst of them? If we do, let’s give Him thanks for that gift today. But if we don’t, may we ask Jesus to strengthen that faith as we receive Him in the Eucharist today and to always have the courage to deepen our trust in Him.
 Joseph Cece, “12th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Moving from Fear to Faith,” on eCatholicism.org. http://www.ecatholicism.org/index.php/reflections/cycle-b/10-lectionary-cycle-b/155-12th-sunday-in-ordinary-time-moving-from-fear-to-faith
 Flor McCarthy, SDB. “Twelfth Sunday of the Year: Storm on the Lake.” In New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies: Year B (Dublin: Dominican Publications, 2002), 222.
 Joseph Cece, “12th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Moving from Fear to Faith,” on eCatholicism.org.