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June 17, 2009
Breaking Open the Word
By James Cavanagh
June 21: 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Overview: Storms are a common setting of divine manifestations. In the Bible, furious tempests and turbulent seas signify moral chaos and spiritual turmoil. In the midst of such disorder and confusion God establishes peace and stability by the sheer power of his word (e.g., Gn 1:1-3; Ex 19:16; 1 Kgs 19:9-12; Ez 1). The first reading comes from the last part of the Book of Job who has struggled to understand his plight and the apparent injustice of the world. From the midst of the “storm” God speaks to Job assuring him of his power and dominion over the forces of chaos. In the second reading Paul alludes to the death of Christ, which represents God’s definitive triumph over evil. It is the supreme power of love in the word made flesh (Jn 1:14) that impels Paul to persevere in the face of persecution, hardship and want. The stilling of the storm in this week’s Gospel follows a series of parables about the kingdom of God. It is interesting to note that this section begins with Jesus teaching the crowds from a boat just offshore. Jesus’ authority as teacher is confirmed by his power over the forces of nature. There is nothing to fear, he tells the disciples, as long as they put their trust in him.
Key verse: “They were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?’” (Mk 4:41).
“Catechism of the Catholic Church”: “The moral law presupposes the rational order, established among creatures for their good and to serve their final end, by the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Creator. All law finds its first and ultimate truth in the eternal law. Law is declared and established by reason as a participation in the providence of the living God, Creator and Redeemer of all” (No. 1951).
Pope Benedict XVI: “Indeed, we must do all we can to overcome suffering, but to banish it from the world altogether is not in our power. This is simply because we are unable to shake off our finitude and because none of us is capable of eliminating the power of evil, of sin which, as we plainly see, is a constant source of suffering. Only God is able to do this: only a God who personally enters history by making himself man and suffering within history” (“Spes Salvi,” 36).
Application: The Lord assured Job in the midst of his suffering, reminding him that he is the creator of heaven and earth. By the power of his word, Christ calmed the storm and brought order out of chaos. It’s as if he said, “You don’t have to know everything; all you have to do is trust me.” The wind and the waves obeyed Jesus and became calm. When we listen to Christ and trust him, we too can find peace even amidst disorder and confusion.