Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 20, 2021 Cycle B
by Rev. Jose Maria de Sousa Alvim Calado Cortes, F.S.C.E., Chaplain,
Saint John Paul II National Shrine
Sunday Reading Meditations
“Let us cross to the other side” (Mk 4:35). With these words, Jesus challenged the disciples to move toward new horizons, face change and risk, and avoid complacency. As today’s psalm says, “They who sailed the sea in ships, trading on the deep waters, these saw the works of the LORD and his wonders in the abyss” (Ps 107: 23–24). Christian life is constant adventure.
In the Bible, the sea symbolizes chaos, the habitation of evil powers and the realm of death. Man is powerless against those forces. Only God has power over such threats to humankind. In today’s first reading, God tells Job: “Who shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb […] 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!” (Job 38:8,10–11).
We can easily imagine this scene from the Gospel because all of us have experienced violent storms in our lives. Like the apostles, we have been overcome by fear and unbelief. At times, we may have fallen into the temptation of despair and the suspicion that God does not care about us: “Teacher, you do not care that we are perishing?” (Mk 4:38). Jesus Christ is our savior! However, this vital truth may seem like a mere abstraction or in the clouds, unless we have personally experienced what it means to be saved by Christ.
Jesus’ sleeping and awakening foreshadow his death and resurrection, the Paschal Mystery that conquers death and all the evil powers of destruction: “He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ The wind ceased and there was great calm” (Mk 4:39). The apostles witnessed Jesus’ superhuman power: “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” (Mk 4:41). Jesus has divine authority over all that we fear. In the resurrection, Jesus reveals that he is the Lord of all the cosmos. Everything is subservient to him. Christ’s glorious cross renews all things. Redemption is a new creation. In today’s second reading, Saint Paul says: “The old things have passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor 5:17). In Christ, we are no longer slaves of the cosmic forces. We participate in his victorious power over all negativity and darkness, as St. Paul tells us: “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation” (2 Cor 5:17).
Christ’s presence calms our anxiety. However, like the apostles, we need to wake him up: “They woke him” (Mk 4:38). Jesus reveals his power when we call upon his intervention. Through prayer, we introduce harmony into chaos. Today’s responsorial psalm says: “They cried to the LORD in their distress; from their straits he rescued them, He hushed the storm to a gentle breeze, and the billows of the sea were stilled” (Ps 107:28–29).
Let us pray for the love of Christ to be our driving force. As Saint Paul says, “The love of Christ impels us” (2 Cor 5:14). Grant, O Lord, that we may always revere and love your holy name and thus conquer all fear, anxiety and despair. When we are tossed by tempests, may the power of your love bring us the stillness of your kingdom. Amen.