21 June 2015: Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary time

Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
Job 38: 1, 8-11 Ps 107: 23-24, 25-26, 28-29, 30-31 2 Cor 5: 14-17 Mk 4: 35-41


God’s dynamite

In Ordinary time, the Lectionary presents RCIA participants and all believing community members with stories and teachings from Jesus’ everyday ministry. This week Jesus shows us through his “acts of power” that he is God.

Today’s first reading is from the book of Job, a story in prose and poetry about the meaning of human suffering. In this passage, God speaks to Job “out of the storm” (literally “whirlwind”), asking if Job was present when God created the sea (“when it burst forth”) and set its limits (“here shall your proud waves be stilled”). The most powerful force that the land-based Hebrews knew, the stormy Mediterranean, was created and controlled by God. The Divine One’s power and authority, beyond their understanding, is over everything and everyone.

Mark’s gospel tells the story of Jesus overcoming the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Although we call this a miracle story, emphasizing its amazing quality, the evangelists called these stories dynameis or “acts of power,” emphasizing Jesus’ authority or power over nature and sickness. (Dynameis is the root of our word dynamite.) Mark’s story includes the same elements as the first reading–whirlwind, storm, waves, sea–in relation to Jesus. Mark’s Jesus has already demonstrated his “authority” or “power” many times (“Don’t you have faith yet?”), but his disciples still don’t get it (“Who is this one that even the wind and water obey him?”). As we saw in the first reading, only the Divine One could have such power over nature.

In the second reading, Paul explains why he preaches: Once he understood the meaning of Christ’s death (“one died for all”), Christ’s love compelled Paul to live for others. Paul tells us that before we come to faith, we know Christ only humanly (“according to the flesh.”) Now we know and understand Christ though faith. Through faith, we are “in Christ” and are a part of Christ’s “new creation” (God’s kingdom). We must see and recognize everyone (“whoever is in Christ”) as part of this new creation.

Like the disciples in the boat, RCIA candidates and catechumens (and we Catholics, too) sometimes get distracted by the miracle and miss the dynamite. We worry about the storm–“I’m afraid,” “I don’t know what to do,” “Nobody cares about me!”–and forget that God is in the boat with us. God’s dynamite is Jesus’ transforming death and resurrection, the love that compels us to live for others. Are we living this faith, or are we still asking “Who is this one?”

—Terence Sherlock


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