12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Natutulog ba ang Diyos?” Alam natin na ito ay title ng isang kantang pinasikat ni Gary Valenciano. But more than just a title of a song, it is an existential question that we ask in different stages of our life.It can be a haunting, disturbing, or soul-stirring question, particularly when we find ourselves in difficult situations: “Natutulog ba ang Diyos?”
Well, today’s gospel reading gives us this image: “Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.” Let this image of Jesus stay in your mind and heart. In the midst of the howling of strong wind, in the midst of the surging of big waves, in the midst of a frightening storm, threatening the safety of those in the boat… In the midst of all this turmoil, chaos, pandemonium, “Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.”
This is how the Church Fathers and great mystics read this scene: “The sleeping Christ stands for the power and presence of God within the Church and within each of us.” “There is always a source of peace and serenity even in the midst of the greatest storms.”
Let us reflect on this commentary as we try to understand today’s gospel message better and more personally. Let us put it in the context of the “great storms” we find ourselves in and the “big chaos” we are confronting right now: There is this pandemic that continues to threaten our existence, and, of course, the various crises it has caused; the deaths, afflictions, and losses we have suffered; the disruptions and disorders from the lockdown; the closing down of businesses and livelihoods; the increasing number of unemployment; the growing problem of dehumanizing poverty and hunger; the failures and dysfunction of an ineffective government. We are to include the storms our families are facing: financial problem, serious illness of a family member, marital problem, broken relationship, impending divorce. And also, the storms in our personal life: failure and misadventure, setback in our career, betrayal, rejection, sadness, loneliness, depression. Imagine yourself “in the boat” amidst these “storms of life” like the situation of the disciples in today’s gospel story. Jesus is with you… however, “in the stern, asleep on a cushion.”
This sleeping Jesus is the Son of God. He is our connection to the mighty power and loving presence of God. And that is why Jesus is our peace and serenity – peace in the midst of the storm, peace despite the storm.
The Lord does not promise to spare us from the storms of life, but he promises to be with us through them. God’s help comes in a variety of forms. It may not always come in the forms we expect, but it will come. He will never leave us to struggle on our own.
Sometimes, in our troubled situation, amidst the storms of life, we are tempted to say to the Lord what the disciples said, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” “Does it not matter to you that our lives are in danger?” We might not have said the same thing – at least not explicitly – but we have definitely doubted the Lord in other ways. The fact is, every time we get worried and anxious, we actually doubt God’s care, concern, and love for us.
It is clear that what Jesus wanted from his apostles, and what he wants from us, is the conviction that God takes care of his beloved children. What he wants from us is TRUST. It all boils down to trust. Every time we affirm our faith and trust in God, we put a small treasure into his hands – a treasure that builds up equity or value in preparation for the troubled times. God keeps safely in his heart everything entrusted in him, with great interest – compounding continuously. The more we trust him, the more he empowers us to do so.
It is said, “Sometimes the Lord calms the storm; sometimes he lets the storm rage and calms his child.” We may find ourselves in the midst of the storms, but as long as Jesus sails with us, we can find peace.
Let us end with a prayer: Lord Jesus, I invite You into my life and into the storm that terrifies me. Give me the faith and trust to believe that even when You seem to be asleep in my boat, in the midst of chaos, You are with me and working in my behalf. I know You can do all things, so, I humbly beg for Your peace; let Your serenity invade in my heart. I wait for You to calm my fears. Amen.