"Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time"

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS 
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Posted for June 21, 2015
 

I do like the story in today’s Gospel about Jesus calming 
the storm. It is easy for us to imagine the rising panic of 
the disciples and contrast it with Jesus who is completely 
at peace with himself as he sleeps in the stern of the boat 
with his head on a cushion.

The Lake of Galilee is relatively shallow and so when the wind whips up the sea can get a bit wild. A storm can blow up very quickly and this can be quite devastating for boats that cannot find shelter speedily enough. In such a situation panic would be the default emotion.

Jesus, however, is not perturbed at all; he sleeps on in the stern of the boat and only wakes when the disciples call him. When he does awake all is done quietly and patiently; he simply rebukes the storm and restores the calm. He then asks them why they are frightened and seems to link this with their lack of faith.

Jesus is, of course, the author of creation. As the Son of the Father he was in existence before any of creation was brought into being. He has no fear of weather or of anything else; it does not control him, no, he controls it.

I don’t doubt that this incident actually took place; it doesn’t strike me as the sort of thing that the disciples would have invented because it puts them in a bad light, especially the remark by Jesus that they have no faith. No it is a story with the ring of truth about it, especially the little detail about him lying with his head on a cushion.

But to me this story has a deeper sense because I think that it has a meaning beyond that particular journey across the Sea of Galilee. I think that we can see this story as an analogy for the storms of life that all of us have to face.

Many of us experience a severe buffeting as we make our journey through life. From time to time in life we suffer illness, loss, pain, separation, straightened circumstances, hardship and so on.

I hazard to say that most of us experience several of these things at various points in our life; however there are some people though who, through no fault of their own, experience a whole succession of misfortunes.

We all know of people who have suffered a series of close bereavements, or multiple illnesses, or long-lasting financial problems or extreme difficulties with their relationships. We observe how such people seem to constantly be passing from one crisis to the next. Or it could be ourselves who are so unfortunate.

These are the storms of life and while we all experience them to some extent certain people surely endure far more than others.

In the storm on the Sea of Galilee the disciples panic, they eventually wake Jesus and they ask him a most telling question, “Do you not care?” They were afraid that the boat would sink. In the face of the storms of life we too frequently panic and often enough the very same question is on our lips. We too ask God in prayer, “Do you not care?”

Sometimes when we most need God we feel that he is not there or that he doesn’t care. In addition to the troubles of life we sometimes also feel that God has cast us aside. We come to the conclusion that he has neglected us and that he doesn’t care. We feel bereft.

A woman in a previous parish who had suffered a lot of personal illness and tragedy culminating in the death of both her husband and her son within a few months was talking to me about what she had endured. At one point she shook her fist at heaven and said with strong feeling, “There is nothing more he can throw at me now!”

There is always the problem of whether our perception and the actual reality correspond or not. In times of extreme difficulty we may feel that God has deserted us but we need to know whether he actually has or not.

We are often so overwhelmed by our feelings and they so hem us in that we cannot easily distinguish the facts of the situation. Sometimes distance is necessary before we can uncover the true reality of the situation.

Oftentimes it feels as though God is far away, as if he has pressing concerns on the other side of the world. Or, as in the Gospel story today, we think he might be asleep in the stern of the boat with his head on a cushion, completely oblivious to the storm which assails us.

In the cold light of day we know that to use terms such as near or far away to describe God’s presence is absolutely useless. God is never near or far away; God is always completely present to us.

I don’t want to say that God is static but these terms which speak of God’s distance from us do not serve us well. God is always close, always understanding, always healing, always loving, always protecting. What is near or far is our perception of him, our feelings of his closeness or distance.

One of the problems that arises when we are experiencing the storms of life is that we think in terms of bad things happening to us. We see loss, illness, pain and so on as negative things. We perceive suffering as something wholly bad.

But when we open the eyes of faith we are able to understand that our sufferings are not actually negative; we come to realise that our sufferings are filled with meaning. In short, they are redemptive.

Faith tells us that the seemingly negative things that happen are all part of God’s purposes. These things strengthen us, they test our love, they give us resolve, they make our faith stronger, and they prepare us for heaven.

Of course, all this only becomes apparent in perspective. It takes time to work through our sufferings in order to see them in their true light. We will eventually see the hand of God in the so-called misfortunes of life. We will eventually come to realize that God is mysteriously showing his love for us through what we at first thought were things which were wholly negative.

We may suffer but we will be vindicated. The Lord will awaken and calm the storms of life enabling us to safely enter our final harbor which is eternal life. It is only then that we will gain true perspective and see our misfortunes for what they really are –signs of God’s great love for us.
http://www.catholicwealdstone.org/wordpress/?p=2155

SaintJohnChurchMiddletown.com

Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
June 21, 2015

Twelfth Sunday: Peace in the Turmoil

As I was thinking about the readings for this week and the fact that this Sunday is Father’s Day, (Let’s hear it for equal time for the dads!), I reflected on a series of complaints that I often hear from some of our fathers. They go something like this: “You know, I would just like to have a few days without turmoil.  Somebody in the family is usually in trouble, most often me.  This Teen missed her curfew, that child lied to us, my wife is upset over something someone said to her, and somehow, beyond my knowledge, I get blamed for part if not all of it.  There’s sickness, someone is always not feeling well and that is scary particularly when it is the children.  There’s the bills. I’m not even going to go there. And then there are the relatives.  I can’t figure out whose family is crazier, mine or hers, but they are running a tight race. Then there is work which so help me I wouldn’t do if they didn’t pay me.  I turn on the news.  What a break that is.  I’m not sure if we are going into global warming or global freezing, but somehow it’s going to be bad.  Between the politicians, the economy, and world events, every day it looks like everything is even worse than the day before.  The world is in turmoil.”
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Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Mark 4: 35–41

Gospel Summary

In Mark’s gospel, Jesus is presented as one who loves to tell stories, such as the one we find in today’s gospel. There are few more frightening experiences than to be in a small boat on a large body of water when a sudden squall comes up. The disciples are experienced fishermen, but they know how helpless they are in a turbulent sea.

The disciples do not understand how Jesus can be so calm at a time of mortal danger. We know, however, that in his baptism he has been empowered to deal with all kinds of chaotic situations. He has been sent by his heavenly Father to restore creation and to drive back the powers of darkness and chaos that have entered our lives through sin. He touches sick people and their health is restored; he confronts demons and they are banished; he brings peace and harmony where there had been fear and hopelessness.
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Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)—June 21, 2015

Liturgically, Ordinary Time is devoted to the preaching of the Kingdom of God. What do we need to know about it? Today’s Gospel gets us started.

Gospel (Read Mk 4:26-34)

St. Mark tells us that, when speaking to the crowds of people who clustered around to hear Him, Jesus described the Kingdom of God in parables. This is interesting, isn’t it? Parables need explaining (“to His own disciples He explained everything in private”). Why didn’t Jesus speak straightforwardly to the people who were curious about Him? The answer is partially revealed in what Jesus had to say in this reading.
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The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

St. Margaret Mary’s parents, Claude Alacoque and Philiberte Lamyn, were distinguished less for temporal possessions than for their virtue, which gave them an honorable position. From early childhood Margaret showed intense love for the Blessed Sacrament, and preferred silence and prayer to childish amusements.

The death of her father and the injustice of a relative plunged the family in poverty and humiliation, after which more than ever Margaret found consolation in the Blessed Sacrament, and Christ made her sensible of His presence and protection. He usually appeared to her as the Crucified or the Ecce Homo. This did not surprise her, as she thought others had the same Divine assistance. At the age of 17 she briefly became attached to the world, but after a vision she repented.
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Jesus, the Great “Amen”?

In the Book of Revelation, Jesus described Himself to the church in Laodicea as, “the Amen, the faithful and true witness” (Rev. 3:14). We use “Amen” at the end of our prayers – when being led in prayer by another to say, “I agree, so be it,” or when praying by ourselves to say “let it be done.” We might also use it to express agreement with what someone has said.

Jesus used the word “Amen” much differently, though – not at the end of his statements, but at the beginning. In our modern English translations we often find it rendered, “Truly, I say to you…,” or when Jesus used a double-amen, “Truly, truly, I say to you…” There are fifty such occurrences in the four gospels, twenty five in the Gospel of John alone. (Fr. Felix Just, S.J., has a wonderful summary.) Fr. Roch Kereszty, O Cist., was the first to bring this to my attention, and I want to quote from him here:
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Apostolic Succession

Legitimate succession was always a matter of concern in biblical religion. The book of Genesis is careful to give the lineage of the patriarchs, from the first man, Adam, to Noah (Gen. 5). The book of Exodus takes similar care as it sets down the priestly generations (Exod. 6). The Chronicles make clear that the monarchy was legitimately passed from father to son (1 Chron. 3). Indeed, the Old Testament histo­ries assure us that “all Israel was enrolled by genealogies” (1 Chron. 9:1).

And the concern for lineage did not pass away in the New Testament. To establish Jesus’ credentials as Messiah, the Gospels detailed His lineage through generations, going back to Abraham (Mt. 1) and even through Adam to God (Luke 3).
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Flesh and Spirit

A student wrote me recently to ask: “I just have a question that has been bothering me for a while. Why did St. Paul say to the Galatians that ‘the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh’? St. Paul also tells the Romans that ‘the law of the mind’ struggles against ‘the law of the flesh.’ If we are made ‘good,’ as it says in Genesis, then why do we have this dichotomy?”

This is a very good question. Indeed, it is a terminological problem that has led many Bible readers astray throughout history.
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Five Ways to Seek Grace in our Life

On one occasion the great mystic, prayer-warrior, penitent, as well as a Doctor of the Church, Saint Catherine of Siena was granted a vision into the state of one soul imbued with sanctifying grace. Upon contemplating the beauty of this one soul in God’s grace she fell to her knees.  Enthralled and totally captivated by its beauty she thought it was God Himself! Of all of the gifts that we can receive on earth, as pilgrims travelling towards our eternal home which is heaven, the grace of God is by far the greatest treasure.  It is the pearl of infinite price!
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A Catholic Version of Success

If you were given the choice between worldly success, or failure, what would you choose? Oh, and if you choose success, it would lead you away from God while failure would draw you closer to him? Your choice?

You want to bargain, don’t you? I want success and I promise to stay close to God. I promise! It’s possible of course, but we also know all too well that we are to be in the world and not of the world.

As an author, the desire for success is hard-wired into my efforts. Yet, as a Catholic, I know God will not measure my success in book sales. The only thing that ultimately matters is the extent that I love and serve God and that means loving and serving others. True spiritual success tempers worldly ambition.
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What God Has Joined, Let No One Divide: Why Christ Cannot Be Found Without the Church

So many of the problems in the Church are rooted in a poor ecclesiology. Ecclesiology refers to how we understand the nature, mission and role of the Church. From a poor ecclesiology stems other problems such as understanding why and how the Church has authority to teach, to bind and loose, to forgive sin, to determine the books of the Bible, and the proper way to understand many Scriptural passages.
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Three Mysteries that Cry out from the Gospel

There are three key mysteries in the life of Jesus, according to St. Ignatius of Antioch, in an intriguing line from one of the letters of this early Church Father.

The three mysteries are: the virginity of Mary, the birth of Christ, and His death. What is intriguing is how St. Ignatius describes them. He calls them ‘mysteries of the cry.’

What is a ‘mystery of the cry’?

Most translators drain this phrase of its enigmatic richness and try to guess what the saint meant.
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Why I Remain a Catholic

A friend of mine sent me an email with this subject line: “A challenge for your blogging….” She included Elizabeth Scalia’s invitation to Catholics everywhere in the internet cosmos to write about “Why Do YOU Remain a Catholic”—an invitation itself prompted by the recent Pew Research report on the statistical collapse of the American Church.

That report, with its grim portrayal of the Church’s retention record, already prompted me to write a bit about Catholic parenting and keeping our kids connected to the Faith. However, I’ll take Scalia’s proposition (and my friend’s email) as an excuse to add some additional, more personal thoughts.
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Catholic Religion Quiz, Part II

Continuing from last time in this space…

9. The Eucharist is

A) a beautiful symbol of our togetherness which we invest with the spirit of Love and thereby transform into the “body” and “blood” of Jesus in a process called “transsignification”

B) whatever you believe it in your heart to be

C) merely a reminder of something that happened a long time ago when Jesus suffered
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A Good Man’s Happy Death

Just over 2 months ago, my father, Donald Leroy Evans, journeyed into eternity. I wrote elsewhere recently about my own experience with him, bridging chasms we once had, due in large part to my SSA (same sex attraction) struggles and the closeness we later shared in the last number of years since my return to the Catholic Church.

This piece however is about another aspect of my dad and his last few months on this earth.
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Fatherhood – A Vocation of Love

Almost two centuries ago in France, a little boy named Louis Martin felt drawn to the religious life as he grew up. He was a happy child who benefitted from witnessing his father’s deep love for the Catholic Faith. Though he apprenticed as a watchmaker in his late teens, Louis did not forget his dream to devote his life to God through the religious life. Over the years however, for various reasons including illness, his efforts to pursue a vocation failed.
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Pray for the Living and the Dead – A Meditation on the Seventh Spiritual Work of Mercy

What is the value of one prayer? I suspect it is far greater than any of us imagine. Prayer changes things, sometimes in obvious ways, more often in subtle and even paradoxical ways. But prayer is surely important, even when we don’t experience its immediate effects. Perhaps this is why Jesus taught us to pray always and never to lose heart (cf Luke 18:1). St. Paul echoed this with the simple exhortation “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17). St. James also warned, “You have not because you ask not” (James 4:2).
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Life — A Bold Undertaking

“Life can be successful only if we have the courage to be adventurous.” (Pope Benedict XVI)

Whenever I’m preparing to give a talk or teach a class, I generally turn to three sources for my first inspiration: Scripture, the Catechism, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.  Several years ago I ran across this part of a quote from a meeting he had with the youth of Rome.  He was speaking about having the courage to ask the Lord what He wanted from us.
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Handing On the Faith We Received

When I think back over my life, I am thankful for the many gifts the good God sent my way through people who knew and loved Him and who chose to share that knowledge and love with me. There are so many examples from the good Catholic sisters and priests who taught me to my Presbyterian friend, James, who announced that he was going to save me from the “chains of my Catholicism!” He was wrong about the Catholic faith, but there was no doubt concerning his zealous love for the Lord. And his zeal most certainly helped me grow in my Catholic faith.
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Our Children Deserve the Truth

The sun is shining this morning, here and now.

That is an objective truth.

The sky is completely blue and that giant ball of light is in the sky, causing shadows to appear behind various objects.  Even if some cannot see it shining, or if one asserted that the sun is really NOT shining, it would not change the objective truth that it IS shining, here and now. An objective truth cannot be true and not true at the same time. The sun cannot be shining and not shining at the same time, in the same place. And it is indeed shining.
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Jim Gaffigan: “My faith is very associated with the notion of mercy”

The comedian and his wife (who are premiering a new TV show next month) are profiled in First Things:

FT: What would you say your Catholic faith provides you in a positive way, on a day-to-day basis?

Jim: My faith is very associated with the notion of mercy. I understand that there is something greater than myself that does not judge me in a negative manner—or forgives me I should say. For me, being in touch with the idea that I’m not in control of everything is important. When I find myself frustrated, I have some distance from that idea I’m not in charge, for instance in how this conference call is setup.
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Five Steps to Surviving a Crisis in Marriage

When engaged couples busily and earnestly plan their whimsical, romantic wedding and honeymoon, they seldom consider the possibility of truly heavy crosses afterwards.  I’m not saying that everyone who gets married should carry a cloud of doom above their heads and in their hearts, but it’s important for those who are called to the vocation of marriage to recognize the stark reality that till death do us part is usually a very long time.
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Is Tolerance A Good Thing?

Words have meaning.

Thoughts have consequences.

Unfortunately, these are important concepts that have escaped some.

Take, for instance, the word “tolerance”. In modern use, it has a unique meaning to some and a completely different meaning to others. The result behind the differing definitions of the word, mean that by subscribing to one definition above-and-over another will lead to different consequences. Thus, we ask the question – is tolerance a good thing? Well, it depends on how you define it.
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Lessons From A Monastery:Why a Habit?

“The Habit brought the Church to life.”  —Brian Plum

Of all the outward signs of religious practices, the wearing of the habit is the most visual and also the one with the most wonder, questions, and controversy surrounding it. Seeing a nun in her full habit can conjure up strong feelings from childhood, remind a person of God’s nearness, or even cause feelings of disdain. In the Roman Catholic Church, there is a constant debate over religious wearing the habit or not wearing the habit (at least since Vatican II). Most of those conversations are very black and white and fail to acknowledge the good points and truth from either side. I want to explore both sides here.
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Norcia Monks Rebuild the Foundations of Christian Culture

Walking up the narrow streets of Norcia, the smell of the local delicacy, wild boar, wafting through the air from hanging limbs in shops and restaurants, three times a year University of Mary students make their way toward the historic basilica of St. Benedict. Nursia, the Roman birthplace of St. Benedict, now known as Norcia, is the site of a revival of Benedictine monasticism. The University of Mary, a Benedictine institution, requires a course on St. Benedict for our Rome students with trips to Subiaco, Monte Cassino, and Norcia. At Norcia, our students (many of them in the Catholic Studies program that I direct) encounter a dynamic renewal that both looks back to the foundations of Benedictine monasticism and vibrantly looks forward to the renewal of Catholic culture in the New Evangelization.
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Caring for creation is a duty for all, Pope says ahead of encyclical launch

Vatican City, Jun 14, 2015 / 06:11 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis said Sunday that his coming encyclical on the care of creation is not just for some, but is addressed to all, and serves as an invitation to pay more attention to environmental destruction and recovery.

In his comments to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his June 14 Angelus address, Pope Francis noted how his upcoming encyclical on the care of creation, “Laudato Si: On the Care of the Common Home,” will be published this Thursday, June 18.
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A Fraternitas Update

At the beginning of the month, I announced Fraternitas, a community for Catholic men. If you missed the announcement, Fraternitas will help you build your Catholic library, meet other brothers in Christ, form a local chapter in your community, and give you access to exclusive webinars with Catholic leaders, among other things. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I promised more details would be coming, so here’s another quick update.
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Teenagers and Truth

What is truth?

This is not an idle question, especially for teenagers. They may not ask it this way but there is a hunger, a need, an intense yearning to grab onto something that makes sense of their existence. The young man’s question to Jesus “Master, what must I do?” (Mk 10:17ff) is not merely a pragmatic question. It is a heart-felt plea for meaning and direction. Jesus’ answer leaves the young man sad and he walks away. He is not willing to give everything up to follow Jesus, he does not recognize THE TRUTH about himself—namely that he is meant for union with God—even when He stands before him.
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