12th Sunday in Ordinary Time | Year B

Posted on junio 21, 2024 View all Gospel Reflection

John Steinbeck wrote about Jim Casy and Tom Joad traveling to California looking for a better life in a land they’ve never seen. When their ragged old car breaks down, Casy begins to pour out his doubts to Tom about this seemingly jinxed rush to California. Tom resists Casy’s pessimistic predictions with the simple answer: “I’m still layin’ my dogs down one at a time.” “Yeah,” says Casy, “but when a fence comes up to ya, ya gonna climb that fence.” “I climb fences when I got fences to climb,” Tom replies.  Casy just shakes his head and says, “It’s the bes’ way. I gotta agree. But they’s different kinda of fences. They’s folks like me that climb fences that ain’t ever strang up yet-an’ can’t help it.”1

The storm was a fence the disciples had to climb, but their terror at the situation didn’t help.

The benefits of anxiety are most prominent when experienced at mild to moderate levels because it can enhance performance, provide an energy boost, and increase motivation to accomplish tasks such as proactive problem-solving, and individuals with interpersonal anxiety often possess a higher degree of empathy and sensitivity towards others and often excel in active listening. 2

“When anxiety reaches higher levels,” like with the disciples, “it can cause negative emotional, social, and health consequences.”3

Yes, water was washing into the boat, but it was designed to have low sides so that fishing nets could be thrown and hauled up easier. Their high fear prevented them from coping with the problem by maybe bailing water out of the boat the best way they could.

How do we cope with the storms we must pass through—addiction issues, job or finances, miscarriages?

St. Athanasius says that storm Jesus sleeping tested his disciples. “In the midst of these storms, it often seems that Jesus is asleep, in other words, that God is absent and has forgotten his people.”4

St. Augustine says “wake Him up” when you have listened to abuse….[and] your heart is being battered you are heading for shipwreck of misfortune. Rouse him to gain His patience, to seek His presence, when we need His grace.

When Jesus «rebuked» the storm and told it to «be still» (Mark 4:39), these are the same words which Jesus employed to cast out a demon in Capernaum (Mark 11:25). There is, apparently, no difference in the way Jesus deals with a demon causing illness and the way he deals with the storm. Both are dealt with in the same way because, it would appear, both are caused by the same element: the enemy of God and Christ, the demonic.5

Existential worry is gone by Jesus’ saving death and resurrection.

“Tell God that you are leaving all your worries in his hands during those special times. Or laid aside and not picked up until the next morning.”6

Our daily bread is our daily help from God, and Jesus says do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own, Matthew 6:34, and Philippians 4:6 says, «Do not be anxious about anything…”

You have authority over any storm you can sleep in.7  Because it means you trust in God’s providential plan for your life even in life or death situations.

“From ancient times, this Gospel has been understood also as a parable of the Church, called the barque of Peter, being dashed to pieces in the forces of historical evil chaos.”8

In Latin, Spanish, and Italian, the term barca refers to a small boat, not a full-sized ship.

845 in the Catechism:

«The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is “the world reconciled.” She is that bark which “in the full sail of the Lord’s cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world.” She is prefigured by Noah’s ark, which alone saves from the flood.

“Jesus asleep on a cushion at the back of the boat during a storm” tells us that there are plenty of real fences in life that we have to climb. “Our biggest challenge is to recognize those invisible fences “that ain’t ever strang up yet” and to ignore them. Sybil Partridge wrote a hymn that we would do well to remember in our struggle to creatively face the anxieties of life:

Lord for tomorrow and its needs, I do not pray; Keep me, my God, from stain of sin. Just for today.9

1.    John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Viking Press, pg. 237

2.    Maria Kereshi, Psy.D., Anxiety: Benefits and Drawbacks, LukeNotes, Vol. XXVII, No. 2, May 2024

3.    Kereshi

4.    John Bergsma, The Word of the Lord, Steubenville, Ohio, 2021, p 289

5.    Paul J. Achtemeier, Person and deed: Jesus and the storm-tossed sea, Interpretation, 16 no 2 Apr 1962, p 176

6.    Thomas Lane Butts, Tigers in the Dark, book, 01/01/1994, p 43

7.    Bill Johnson Charisma magazine, Nov. 2014, p 16

8.    John Bergsma, The Word of the Lord, Steubenville, Ohio, 2021, pg. 288  

9.    Butts, p 46