Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

The Readings for Sunday, June 22, 2018:

First Reading: Job 38:1-11

First Reading (Semi-cont.): 1 Samuel 17:[1a, 4-11, 19-23] 32-49

First Reading (Alt.): 1 Samuel 17:57--18:5, 10-16 (Semi-continuous)

Psalm: Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32

Psalm (Semi-cont.): Psalm 9:9-20

Psalm (Alt.): Psalm 133 (Semi-continuous)

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:1-13

Gospel: Mark 4:35-41

We live in storm-tossed times. I write this sentence on a regular basis through the years, and frankly, it doesn’t seem like much has changed, except that this year than I have less faith that our politicians can find a solution, and I have less hope that we will collectively find our way to better times. In these early days of hurricane season, I feel haunted by the idea that a big storm will come along and finish us off.  I worry about literal storms and the larger storm clouds that seem to be gathering across the globe.  In these days, I wish I knew less about the 1930's and the events that brought us World War II.

Maybe we can relate to those disciples in this week's Gospel. The boat is taking on water. We're sinking. We'll die out here in the middle of this lake. It was bad back there with the crowds, but we don't want to perish this way.

And so, like the disciples, we call out: "Where are you God? Don't you care about us, Jesus?"

Look at the response of Jesus in this passage. Many theologians have noted that he doesn't mock them for their fears. Their fears are real and valid. But he asks them why they're letting their fears get the best of them. It's as if he's saying, "I'm right here. I'm with you. Have you forgotten what is possible when I'm in your boat?"

And then, he calms the storm.

Just because we're believers, that doesn't mean that we will never experience storms. We will, and we will likely be afraid. But Jesus assures us that even though we might feel alone, we are not alone. The storms will come, and storms will go. But God is always there, with us, in our boats.

Again and again, Jesus reminds us where we should place our loyalties, and it's not the nation-state.  Again and again, Jesus tells us how we can save our souls, and it's not by the ways advocated by politicians.  We will be judged by how we treat the poor, the oppressed, the outcast.  We may not be able to save them all.  But we cannot turn away.

In these times when we may be feeling that we're seeing our societal fabric unravel right before our eyes, it's good to remember that God is in the boat with us.  We may not have the solution.  We may have less power than we wish we had.  We may not be able to imagine how a just world will emerge from the wreckage.  We may despair over how quickly the world seems to want to return to wreckage.

That despair can be as deadly as any storm.  God has a vision of a better world, one where the poor, the oppressed, and the outcast finally find a home.  Don't let despair keep us blind to that vision.

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