23 June 2024 – 12th Sunday

23 June 2024 – 12th Sunday (Year B)

(1) Job 38:1, 8-11

Job’s pride is curbed by awe

The Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said:

“Who shut within doors the sea,
when it burst forth from the womb;
when I made the clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling bands?
When I set limits for it
and fastened the bar of its door,
and said: Thus far shall you come but no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stilled!”

Responsorial: from Psalm 139) ?

R./: I praise you, for I am wonderfully made

O Lord, you search me and you know me,
you know my resting and my rising,
you discern my purpose from afar.
You mark when I walk or lie down,
all my ways lie open to you. (R./)

For it was you who created my being,
knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I thank you for the wonder of my being,
for the wonders of all your creation. (R./)

Already you knew my soul,
my body held no secret from you,
when I was being fashioned in secret
and moulded in the depths of the earth. (R./)

(2) 2 Corinthians 5:14-17

Paul’s spiritual outlook: A life prompted and sustained by the love of God

The love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all; therefore, all have died. He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer. So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.

Gospel: Mark 4:35-41

Calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee

When evening had come, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”


Drawing a lesson from the storm

St John Chrysostom’s Homilies on Matthew were preached in Antioch and show his keen engagement with details of the text. His main objective was promoting morality, so that in dealing with any passage he concludes with an exhortation to some special virtue. Here is part of what he says about today’s Gospel. The citation is long, but it is full of keen insights: “Behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, so that the ship was covered with the waves, but he was asleep.” Jesus took them with him, not by chance but in order to make them spectators of the miracle that was to take place. For like an excellent trainer, he was anointing them with a view to both objects; as well to be undismayed in dangers, a to be modest in honours. Having sent away the rest, he kept them and lets them be tossed with the tempest; at once correcting this, and disciplining them to bear trials nobly. For while the former miracles were great indeed, this one contained also in it a major kind of teaching, and was a sign like that of old. For this reason he takes with him only the disciples. For as when there was a display of miracles, he also lets the people be present; so when trial and terrors were rising up against him, he takes with him none but the champions of the whole world, whom he was to train. While Matthew merely mentioned that “he was asleep,” Luke says that it was “on a pillow;” meaning both his freedom from pride, and to teach us hereby a high degree of austerity.”

He goes on to moralise about the disciples’ fear: “When the tempest was at its height and the sea raging, they awoke him, saying, “Lord, save us: we perish.” But he rebuked them before he rebuked the sea, because as I said, these things were permitted for training purposes and they were an image of the trials that would come to them later. Yes, for after these things again, he often let them fall into serious tempests of misfortune; and Paul also said, “I would not have you ignorant that we were pressed beyond our strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life;” and again, “Who delivered us from so great a death.” Indeed their very alarm was a valuable occurrence, that the miracle seemed all the greater and their remembrance of the event be made lasting. Having first expected to be lost, they were saved, and having acknowledged the danger, they learned the greatness of the miracle. So that is why he sleeps: for had he been awake when it happened, they would not have been fearful, or they would not have begged him. Therefore he sleeps, to give occasion for their timidity and make clearer their perception of what was happening.”

Chrysostom concludes, “He stretched out no rod, as Moses did, neither did he stretch forth his hands to Heaven, nor did he need any prayer, but as for a master commanding his handmaid, or a Creator his creature, so did he quiet and curb it by word and command only; and all the surge was immediately at an end, and no trace of the disturbance remained. This the evangelist declared saying, “And there was a great calm.” And that which had been spoken in praise of the Father, he showed forth again by his works. For it says, “he spoke and the stormy wind ceased.” So here likewise, he spoke, and “there was a great calm.” And the multitudes who wondered at him; would not have marvelled, had he done it in such manner as did Moses.”

Overwhelming force

In good weather it is lovely to live near the sea, especially when we have such a lovely promenade. Last month I was involved in a blessing of boats ceremony organized by our boat and yacht club. It was my first time in the premises of that club and it brought home to me how many people, including young people, from the area are involved in sailing and boating. We are fortunate to have a relatively sheltered stretch of water between the promenade and the open sea where people can sail reasonably safely. It is a wonderful amenity. Let’s hope it is left to the people of the area and to the people of Dublin well into the future. Yet, for all the attractiveness of the sea, we know too that the sea can be treacherous. Even our sheltered stretch of water can sometimes look quite choppy, never mind the open sea beyond the lighthouse. Those who spend time on the sea learn to treat it with respect, because they know it can be a destructive force as well as a benign one.

The Sea of Galilee was a very large inland lake more than a sea, yet, like a sea, it could turn very nasty due to winds suddenly blowing down onto it from the surrounding hills. Something of the fear that a storm at sea can evoke is very well captured in the way that the disciples address Jesus, ‘Master, do you not care? We are going down!’ They could have been forgiven for thinking that Jesus did not care because, according to the gospel, he was asleep as the storm raged. There is a striking contrast between the relaxed demeanour of Jesus in the storm and the great agitation of the disciples. Jesus was clearly coping with the storm better than they were. Having been rebuked by his disciples, Jesus goes on to rebuke them, ‘Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?’ They had been with Jesus for some time and had witnessed God powerfully at work in and through him. That experience should have been enough to reassure them that, in spite of the raging storm, all would be well, because Jesus was with them. He had said to them at the beginning of their journey, ‘let us cross over to the other side.’ They should have trusted that, with Jesus with them, they would make it to the other side, in spite of the storm they were encountering.

The church’s reputation has gone through stormy waters in recent times. Unlike the storm on the lake, the storms the church has been battling are, to a large extent, of our leaders’ own making, by covering up cases of abuse in order to safeguard reputation. Perhaps, in the midst of these storms some of us may have been tempted to cry out with the disciples in the boat, ‘we are going down.’ We may be asking, like those disciples, where is the Lord in all of this? Like them, we may find ourselves fearful and losing faith as the church lurches from side to side in the stormy waters.

One of the messages of the storm story is that the Lord remains with the church in the storm. The Lord is present to his fearful and faithless disciples. He may rebuke us as he rebuked those disciples in the boat. However, his presence to us in the storm is not just a rebuking presence. It is ultimately a creative and life-giving presence. Jesus brought calm out of the chaos; he tamed the storm and saw to it that the boat reached the other side. The Lord remains stronger than the storms that threaten the church, whether those storms are self-inflicted or brought on by others or a combination of both.

Like the apostles, we need to trust that Our Lord works to bring his church through the storm to a new place where, as in their case, fear gives way to awe and their rebuking question, ‘Master, do you not care?’ gives way to amazement, ‘Who can this be? Even the winds and sea obey him.’ This conviction (that the Lord of the church is stronger than the storm) should not make us complacent. Yet, it keeps us hopeful and faithful, even when so much seems under threat. Today’s responsorial psalm assures us that if we cry to the Lord in our need he will rescue us from our distress. Our need and distress can open us up more fully to the Lord’s life-giving presence among us.

Saint Paul makes a wonderful statement at the beginning of that second reading, ‘the love of Christ overwhelms us.’ Another translation would be ‘the love of Christ urges us on.’ The love of Christ for us was revealed above all in his death on the cross. As Paul says in his letter to the Romans, ‘God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.’ It is that remarkable love of God in Christ for us that urges us on, even when we are battling against a headwind. It urges us on until we reach what the gospel calls ‘the other side’, the place towards which the Lord is guiding the church — the place where he wants us all to be.


  1. Thara Benedicta says:

    Key Message:
    When Jesus is in our boat, our boats will always reach the shore!!

    Testimony: I have an old aunt who lost her husband and then her only daughter in her later years. Her daughter had a 10-year-old diabetic child when she died. The child’s father remarried and was not taking care of his son. So this aunt was taking care of her grandson. She was also suffering with a few health issues, but they had enough finance to live. It was distressing to see the elderly grandma and grandson live all alone. I was asking Jesus, how come there is no middle-aged person in the family to take care of this elderly grandma and her grandson? I simply heard the reply, “I have given her courage, isn’t it enough?” I called up this aunt and told her. She immediately acknowledged it and said, “True, I know that God has given me the required courage to take care of me and my grandson. I don’t know how I will, but I know God will certainly take care of us”. Of late, I have witnessed our good Jesus sending some middle-aged friends to help her out in her critical needs.

    As we read in the above testimony, our Lord Jesus always equips us with the required power to run our life during our life’s storm. At times we would not have recognised the power our Lord has bestowed on us to get through the storm. But grace carries us through our suffering days. When we recognise our Lord’s grace that He has specially bestowed on us to carry us through the storm, we will experience peace in the storm. In the above testimony, the grandma had peace in the storm, which was not visible to the rest of the world. So there is always a special grace when we go through the storm.

    When our Lord Jesus said “Let’s go to the other side”, He knew there would be a great storm when they were in the middle of the waters. He did not delay their travel even though He was aware of the storm. He led them through the storm. He utilized this opportunity to teach His disciples to face the storm with faith in Him. The storm is also our opportunity to show our trust in Him. Testimony: When my project got cancelled I was very upset. When I sat in front of my home altar for prayer I heard the silent voice saying, “I was hoping to see you smiling even now due to your faith in me”.
    Our Lord Jesus has a special message for us in every storm.

    In today’s Gospel reading our Lord Jesus promised the disciples, “Let us go across to the other side.” Finally they reached the other side, irrespective of the storm that arose in the middle. The devil is a thief who tries to steal the good life when our Lord Jesus is taking us forward. So the devil may try to frighten us by sending a storm just to hamper our progress. Like how the Apostles feared that they were dying, we may also feel the same. But it is just a game of the devil to keep us away from fulfilling God’s will. So we should still proceed. Since our Lord Jesus is in our boat, He will never allow us to drown.

    Can we wake up our Lord Jesus? In the Autobiography of Little Thérèse, when her dad started suffering due to illness, she surprised her novice mistress by saying that she can suffer a little more. But after quite some time, his sufferings not only persisted but also increased, she said that she cannot suffer anymore. Since she had a closer walk with our Lord Jesus, she could sustain longer in her storm. If we are not able to sustain through the storm, it is better to wake up our Lord Jesus rather than giving up. But if we already had a long walk with Jesus, then we will be able to persevere in the storm and allow Him to sleep for a little while in our little boat.
    Do we pray, “Jesus, please give us the strength to persevere in this storm” or “Jesus, please calm the storm immediately”?

    Our Lord Jesus did not allow the storm to stay for a long time. God says to Job in the first reading that He has commanded the proud waves of the sea, “Only this far you shall come and no farther”, and the proud waves stopped at the shore. This is synonymous with Jesus stopping the stormy rain, wind, and sea in today’s Gospel. The first reading is about how our God the Father always limits our sufferings. There is no part in God’s plan which says that our sufferings will be endless or limitless. Sin brings suffering to both the sinner and saint. The saints sacrifice themselves for the salvation of the sinners and sinners pay the price of their sins until they repent.

    In the second reading, the Apostle Paul says that we need to live for Christ alone. Once we determine that we are going to live for Christ alone, then we begin to transform into a new person. Neither our work or home or family changes, but we will have a complete change in attitude. Things will not disturb us easily and we will experience more peace and joy. When our mind constantly thinks of living for Christ alone, slowly we will become selfless. This is the hardest battle of anyone’s life – overcoming selfishness. Instead of thinking “What’s in it for me?”, we will start thinking, “What can I do for our dear Jesus?” The sad Saul became a very happy Paul when he started living for our Lord Jesus alone.
    How to become a new creation in Christ?
    We need to have a desire to change our thoughts, words, and actions according to Christ.
    We would have been an angry, irritable person or lazy one… it can be anything of that kind. The willingness to change ourselves is necessary to enjoy the new life in Christ. We may be able to think of excuses like – “These are born in me, so I cannot change” or “With such a set of people around me, I need to be like this” or “With my bad childhood, I have become like this”. All these thoughts will not allow us to move forward. It will make us remain where we are.
    Steps for enjoying the new life in Christ:
    a. Know that if God says there is new life, it is for us too.
    b. Be ready to change for the good. We all have only one life.
    c. There are Bible verses for every problem. At any time we can choose one area where we can discipline ourselves.
    Example: If we want to suppress our anger: Ephesians 4:26-27: ‘“In your anger do not sin”.
    From this verse, we can infer that:
    i. Anger is not a sin
    ii. While getting the feeling of anger, we should not sin. Like venting our anger on others by shouting and so on… We should not show our feeling of anger to others by injuring them. When our children make us angry, there is no use in shouting at them, indirectly we are teaching them how to shout.
    iii. For example, when we know that there is one person in our family who will definitely tempt us to get angry, let us make a resolution in our heart that regardless of how much s/he tempts us to get angry, we will not lose our cool. How much ever the other person raises their voice, we can continue speaking in a soft tone. It works!! An advantage of this strategy is, this makes the other person want the coolness we possess.

    What do we infer from our boat trip with our dear Jesus…?
    1. Our Lord Jesus is always in our boat (either awake/sleeping);
    2. Not to fear during critical challenges, because Jesus will take care of us;
    3. To have an attitude of submission and endurance;
    4. With Jesus in our boat, we will surely reach the other side (accomplish our purpose on earth).

    1. To have Jesus in our little boat (either awake/sleeping):
    Boat refers to – our individual heart, our church, our family, an institution, whatever it may be. Jesus needs to be there.
    When will Jesus be in our boat? He keeps knocking to enter our boat. We only have to open the doors of our hearts for Him by trusting in Him. Our trust in Him will always lead to conversing with Him. God created mankind to love Him and have a conversation with Him. God liked to have a walk and chat with Adam and Eve (from the book of Genesis). So it’s a deep longing in our God’s heart to always chat with us. Can we chat with Jesus?
    2. No need to fear during critical challenges, because Jesus will take care of us:
    Jesus was surprised that the disciples did not hold their peace in the storm. As the storm was great and the boat was sinking, the disciples responded to their first natural impulse – fear. Yet Jesus was sleeping peacefully in the boat. Jesus responded by saying, “There is nothing to fear. Even when you feel the whole world is falling apart, when I am with you, do not fear”.
    3. To have an attitude of submission and endurance:
    We read that the disciples woke up Jesus from His sleep because they did not have any hope. It was too much for them to take. Think about this – If the disciples had not woken up our Jesus, would He have left the disciples to drown and die? Surely not. Before the storm could actually drown everyone Jesus would have got up on His own and stopped the storm. Will we be able to wait until Jesus gets up on His own or will we wake Him up? It is all in the difference in the kind of prayer we do. Do we pray, “Jesus, please give us the strength to persevere in this storm” or “Jesus, please calm the storm immediately”?
    4. With Jesus in our boat, we will surely reach the other side (complete our purpose on earth):
    At the beginning of this story, Jesus said, “Let us go to the other side”. Finally, Jesus and His disciples reached the other side safely i.e. irrespective of the storm during the middle of the journey, they completed their journey. When we are searching for a job or waiting to get married or having a child or recovering from sickness or … whatever it may be, whenever our Jesus says, “Let us go to the other side”, irrespective of however fierce the storm is in the middle, we will always reach the shore finally.
    Let us row our boats confidently since Jesus is inside the boat!!

  2. Joe O'Leary says:

    “Who shut within doors the sea,
    when it burst forth from the womb;
    when I made the clouds its garment
    and thick darkness its swaddling bands?” (Job 38:8-9).

    The sea was one of the vastest things known to the people of Is-rael. Unlike the Phoenicians, they were not a sea-faring people and were scared of the perils the sea contained, the danger of storms and sea-monsters.

    “Some went down to the sea in ships,
    doing business on the great waters;
    they saw the deeds of the LORD,
    his wondrous works in the deep.
    For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
    which lifted up the waves of the sea.
    They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths;
    their courage melted away in their evil plight;
    they reeled and staggered like drunken men.” (Ps 107:23-7)

    Our tiny planet, which we can blow to smithereens at a mo-ment’s notice, no longer seems a suitable space for manifesting divine greatness. The little tempest that terrified the disciples on the Sea of Galilee no longer seems a terrifically impressive danger, when compared with our devastating wars, our pressing threats such as the climate crisis. The little world of the Bible is easy for us to contemplate and does not defeat our minds like the trillions of galaxies of the cosmos known today.

    Four centuries ago, the founding figures of modern science, Co-pernicus (1473-1543; On the revolutions of the heavenly spheres, 1543), Galileo (1564-1642), Kepler (1571-1630), Newton (1642-1726; Principia, 1687) revealed a vast and threatening universe, very unlike that of the medieval imagination. Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) reacted to this new universe with terror: “The eter-nal silence of those infinite spaces terrifies me.” But Pascal was not crushed by the tininess and insignificance of human beings in this vast space, because he set a high value on the unique fea-ture of humans, their thinking mind: “Man is only a reed, the weakest in nature, but he is a thinking reed. There is no need for the whole universe to take up arms to crush him: a vapour, a drop of water is enough to kill him, but even if the universe were to crush him, man would still be nobler than his slayer, be-cause he knows that he is dying and the advantage the universe has over him. The universe knows none of this.” The greatness of the human mind is seen in the sciences, which can master the secrets of the physical universe, and also in the penetrating phi-losophies of Descartes (1596-1650) and Leibniz (1646-1716), which celebrate the power of Reason.

    Pascal championed a higher order than that of Nature and that of Reason, which he called the order of Charity. Here is where divine Grace reigns supreme and where Faith comes into its own. Today’s readings tell us of this order in their simple tales of God and of Christ mastering the sea and its fierce storms. The command of Jesus — “Peace! Be still!” (Mk 4:39) — creates “a great calm.” After the word to the paralytic — “Child, your sins are forgiven” (Mk 2:5) — it is the earliest moment in this, the earliest of the Gospels, when the divine status of Jesus begins to emerge. In that “great calm” we tune in to the divine order of love and grace presiding over our natural world and protecting our lives.

    Cardinal Martini celebrated Mass in the Paulusheim, the resi-dence associated with the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture of Nanzan University, Nagoya, on the feast of St Ignatius Loyola, 31 July 1986. Commenting on the words “the love of Christ urges us on” (2 Cor 5:14), he corrected the translation (which as one of the editors of the Greek text of the New Testa-ment he was well qualified to do). He pointed out that the verb sunekhei means to embrace or enfold. “When I stood on the site of the Acropolis in Elea, I thought of Parmenides and the sea of Being embracing all beings, and today I think of the sea of Christ’s love embracing the islands of Japan.”

    The little sea of Galilee, the great seas of the Atlantic and Pacif-ic, and whatever bodies of water there may be elsewhere in the vast universe, are surpassed and mastered by the sea of Mind, beloved of poets and Neoplatonic philosophers:

    A presence that disturbs me with the joy
    Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
    Of something far more deeply interfused,
    Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
    And the round ocean and the living air,
    And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
    A motion and a spirit, that impels
    All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
    And rolls through all things. (Wordsworth)

    But Scripture invites us to bathe in a still greater sea, the ocean of divine love, whose waves are always knocking quietly at our hearts. We can plunge confidently into that sea, because it is the very ground of our being:

    For it was you who created my being,
    knit me together in my mother’s womb.
    I thank you for the wonder of my being,
    for the wonders of all your creation.

  3. Adrabo Dante says:

    Stormy life situations are many in our present experiences in the social, economic and political fields. As presented by the gospel of Mark for this Sunday we need to trust in Christ and recognise Him amidst us ready to save us. This is the confirmation the almighty God, the creator gave to Job in his stormy life not to fear.
    St Paul urges us to be confident and fearless for Christ has died to save us from the powers of sin, death and evil. Let’s praise and glorify the Lord, the creator of everything.

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