The Sea of Galilee is really a land-locked lake 600 feet below sea level. Ravines in the hills and mountains surrounding the Galilee act as natural wind tunnels. In the evening, as the warm air of the day rises above the water, cool air rushes in through the ravines. The effect is amazing: the tranquil lake is whipped into a fury of white-capped six-foot waves. In the midst of this terrorizing experience, Jesus calms both the sea and his disciples' fear.
The evangelist is recounting this story to a terrified and persecuted community. Today's Gospel is intended to reassure them of the Risen Christ's constant presence in the storms they struggle through for the sake of their faith in his reign to come.
In our stormy whirlwind lives, we need to make time for peace, for stillness, for quiet in order to hear the voice of God within us.
The grace of the Risen Christ enables us to discern the presence of God amid the roar of anger and mistrust and to see the light of God in the darkness of selflessness and prejudice.
From Fr. Tony Kadavil:
1: “No! Jesus who calmed the storm will save me!” The Mississippi River was flooding its banks, and the waters were rising swiftly around Dorothy’s house. The waters had gotten to the level of the front porch where Dorothy was standing when a man in a rowboat came by and called to Dorothy, “Hop in and I’ll take you to high ground.” Dorothy replied, “No, Jesus who calmed the storm in the sea will save me from flood waters!” The river continued to rise to the second story windows and Dorothy, looking out, saw a powerboat come up. The man in the powerboat called to Dorothy, “Hop in and I’ll take you to high ground.” Dorothy replied, “No, my Jesus will save me!” The river had now risen to the roof of the house. Dorothy was sitting on the ridge at the top of the house with the waters swirling around her feet. She saw a helicopter fly over, and the people inside yelled over a bull horn, “Grab the rope and climb in, and we’ll take you to high ground.” Dorothy replied, “No, Jesus will save me!” The river continued to rise. Finally, the floodwaters engulfed the house and Dorothy was drowned. The next thing Dorothy knew, she was standing before Jesus. In anger, she asked Jesus, “I put my trust in You. Why have you forsaken me?” And to her Jesus replied, “What do you want from Me? I sent you a rowboat, a powerboat, and a helicopter!” (http://www.inspiration.com). — Today’s Gospel tells us that we have to act promptly, trusting in the power of Jesus and seeking his help as the apostles did. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
2: The Edmund Fitzgerald buried in Lake Superior: In 1976, the songwriter Gordon Lightfoot recorded a haunting ballad in honor of, and as a tribute to, a ship and its crew members who lost their lives. He called it “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” The Edmund Fitzgerald was a giant ore-freighter, 729 feet in length. It was the largest carrier on the Great Lakes from 1958 until 1971. The Fitzgerald was labeled “the pride of the American Flag.” On November 10, 1975, the Fitzgerald was hauling a heavy load of ore to Detroit, Michigan, when it ran into a severe storm. This storm generated 27-30-foot waves. During the evening hours the ship disappeared from radar screens; apparently it sank in a matter of minutes. It now rests on the bottom of Lake Superior, broken in two with the bow upright and the stern upside down, still loaded with its cargo of ore and all 29 hands. Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus saved the apostles from a possible wreck in the Sea of Galilee (Confer # 2, 3, & 4). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
3: Sales executive of U. S. Airlines serving as deacon in a correctional center: Frank Kirchberg of Memphis retired a few years ago from the post of a sales executive with U.S. Air Lines. It was the end of an honorable career during which he had raised a fine family. But retirement gave him time to reflect on his life thus far. He had gone to Mass regularly and tried to do the good things and avoid the bad, but he realized he had not done all he might have “as a caring Christian and Catholic.” “When you look at the record closely,” he told the editor of Common Sense, “you will find that a lot of your good Catholic upbringing might perhaps have been lying inert for many years inside, you waiting for this phase of your life to blossom.” So what did he do? In the mid-1970s he enrolled in the corps of those preparing to be ordained permanent deacons in the diocese of Memphis. He could have signed up for a lesser service – Mass-server, lector or Eucharistic minister; but he preferred a greater commitment. The preparatory course gave him a different slant on life. After he was ordained to the diaconate in 1978, he was happy to be assigned to work with young lawbreakers committed to correctional institutions. Experience in sales and as a parent helped him to get on the same wavelength as these youngsters, to whom he became a “father figure.” He has profited as much as they have. “Through the diaconate experience,” he says, “I have been drawn closer to God through a stronger spiritual life, and it is to the point now where that spiritual life is the major emphasis in my thinking.” — When we reach a stage in life when we think we are finished, God often calls us to a second and even greater career. Be ready for such a call. Maybe St. Paul had you in mind when he wrote, “The old order has passed away; now all is new.” (2 Cor 5:17: today’s second reading). -Father Robert F. McNamara. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
5. “Who is this man? Even the winds and the sea obey Him! “ Four women were sitting discussing their sons. The first proudly stated that her son was a bishop, so when he enters a room, people address him as “Your Excellency.”
The second, not to be outdone, said that her son is an archbishop, so when he enters the room, people address him as “Your Grace.”
The third quietly stated that her son was a cardinal, so when he enters the room, the people say: “Your Eminence.”
The fourth woman said: “Well my son is 7 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 430 pounds, and when he walks into a room people say: “My God!”
6. The hurricane prayer: A hurricane had struck. People were huddled together in a Church building for safety. A preacher was praying with great oratorical effects in the midst of this violent storm, crying out, “Send us the Spirit of the children of Israel, the children of Moses, the children of the Promised land.” At this, an old man with less oratory but more directness prayed, “Lord, don’t send nobody. Come Yourself. This ain’t no time for children.”
7. He trusted his wife: A man and his wife were sitting in the living room and he said to her, “Just so you know, I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug.” His wife got up, unplugged the TV and threw out all of his beer.
8. A woman was seated next to a priest on an airplane during storm. The plane was bouncing up and down. The terrified woman said to the priest beside her: “Can’t you do something about this awful storm?” The priest looked at her and said: “I’m in sales, not in Management,” pointing upward with his finger.
25- Additional anecdotes:
1) Fourteen people in the Rembrandt’s painting of storm in the sea: In the Gardiner Museum in Boston there is a painting by Rembrandt entitled “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee.” It is Rembrandt’s interpretation of this scene. It shows panic etched on the faces of the disciples, as their small vessel is being raised up on a high wave, about to be crashed down. Two of the disciples are attempting to rouse Jesus who is asleep in the stern of the boat. But if you look more closely, you will discover that there is something that is not quite right. There are too many people in the picture. So you count them. There are fourteen. There should only be thirteen (twelve disciples and Jesus). But instead there are fourteen. It is then that you notice that one of the men in the boat is Rembrandt. He has painted himself into the picture. He has placed himself in the same boat. — Which is precisely what we should do. It is the way that we are supposed to interpret this passage. We are in the boat with Jesus, faithful but frightened. There is no immunity for any of us. We are caught up in the same fix. I suspect most of us would rather be numbered with the exceptions. Either we would like to believe that storms will never strike us or that Faith will never fail us. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
2) A fishing ship in a perfect storm: October 1991, the Andrea Gail, a seventy-two-foot-long fishing boat, with a 365 horsepower turbo-charged diesel engine, left a New England port headed for the Atlantic Ocean. She was going on what was supposed to be another routine fishing trip. But it was to be her last voyage. Why? Because she ran into the most powerful and dangerous force on earth – a full-blown hurricane on the open seas. An ocean hurricane is so powerful that the combined nuclear arsenals of the United States and the former Soviet Union, do not contain enough energy to keep that hurricane going for one day. One average hurricane encompasses a million cubic miles of atmosphere and could provide all of the electrical power needed by the United States for up to four years. Winds can be so high that when they hit the coast, people have been sandblasted to death. So much rain can fall – up to 5 inches per hour – birds have been known to drown in mid-flight as the water clogs their upward-facing nostrils. The Andrea Gail had the misfortune of running into of all things the storm named Grace. It was a storm so powerful that it had the highest significant wave heights ever measured or calculated from 1899 to 1991. In fact, this storm has been given the nickname “The Perfect Storm.” This storm brought waves ten stories high with pressure of up to six tons per square foot of water. The winds were measured at 120 miles an hour. The Andrea Gail never had a chance because she had encountered the “perfect storm.” — Well 2,000 years ago there occurred in the Sea of Galilee the first “perfect storm.” It was perfect for this reason: not because it was as violent, but it was far more important. Because this storm taught twelve disciples then, and hopefully will teach us today, how to navigate the ship of our life through the stormiest of seas. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
3) Storms of divorce devastating families: Some marriages don’t make it through the storm, and the wreckage can be devastating. Especially for women. A recent study showed that women and children experience a 73% decline in their standard of living the year of their divorce. Ironically men’s standard of living increases 42%. Just as important is the fact that more and more couples find that divorce is no real solution to their problems. In her book, Second Chances: Men, Women and Children a Decade after Divorce, Judith Wallerstein writes, “Divorce is deceptive. Legally it is a simple event, but psychologically it is a chain, sometimes a never-ending chain, of events, relocations and radically shifting relationships strung through time.” [Wallerstein’s quote is taken from Patricia Hersch, “Ten Years After: A Sobering Report on Divorce,” Psychology Today (July, 1989), p. 78.] Marriage counselors who, a decade ago, were advising couples to go ahead and part are now recommending couples hang in there, and try to make it through the storm. Of course, that has been God’s plan all along. Marriage problems are a storm many people are going through. –Today’s Gospel tells us that when the storms of life are raging, Jesus does care. When it seems you cannot hold on a moment longer, God does care. When the waters threaten to engulf, He does care. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
4) “Lord, I can do nothing. Will you take care of me?” Do you know how that truth became real to J.C. Penny, the founder of the retail chain that bears his name? In his autobiography, Fifty Years With the Golden Rule, Penny talks about being in a sanitarium one night when he thought he was dying. He wrote several letters and went to bed, fairly certain that he would not be alive the following morning. But he was still alive when morning came. So he got up and started to walk down the hall. Then he heard people singing: “Be not dismayed whate’er betide. God will take care of you.” A few people were having an early morning prayer meeting, and he slipped in and sat down in the back. Someone read quietly from the Bible, and led a prayer. Before long, Mr. Penny began a spontaneous prayer. He prayed, “Lord, I can do nothing. Will you take care of me?” In the next few moments something did indeed happen to him. In his own words, “It was a miracle.” What happened was that J.C. Penny had met the One who can calm life’s storms. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
5) Storms caused by unexpected death of dear ones: One famous study, called “Broken Heart,” researched the mortality rate of 4,500 widowers within six months of their wives’ deaths. Compared with other men the same age, the widowers had a mortality rate 40 percent higher. What greater storm can we go through than the loss of a loved one? In Ernest Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream, an anguished father mourns the loss of his oldest son. The boy has been killed in war. The father is grief-stricken. He will not eat or sleep. He walks alone on the beach for hours. A friend tries to persuade him to leave the beach and begin to come out of his depression. The father says to his friend, “I have been out here all day thinking about him and wanting to have him with me always. I know I have got to let him go. I have got to, but I cannot do it today.” Some of you can identify with that father’s deep hurt. The loss of a loved one is a dreadful storm. — Today’s Gospel tells us that when the storms of life are raging, Jesus does care. When it seems you cannot hold on a moment longer, God does care. When the waters threaten to engulf, He does care. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
6) “Whenever I see a black storm cloud coming, I fall apart inside. On May 31, 1985, a tornado system touched down in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania. The wind whipped at 250 miles-per-hour, tossing trees like matchsticks, throwing automobiles into the air, and killing fifteen people in two counties. What should have been a Friday afternoon of relaxation turned into a weekend of horror. The little town of Cooperstown, Pennsylvania, was in the direct path of a twister. A retired woman by the name of Isabella Stewart watched nervously as the low, black clouds blew in. The wind blew furiously. Suddenly a string of oak trees began to topple like dominos. The woman went for her car keys, but the wind was too wild to go outside. In a sheer act of panic, Mrs. Stewart reached for the only tangible means of comfort and order. She grabbed her purse. Then she sat in a chair and waited for the worst to happen. Fortunately she did not lose her life, although her dog and cat were never seen again. The brief storm was devastating in a region that was already under economic distress. Over ten years later, Mrs. Stewart says, “Whenever I see a black storm cloud coming, I fall apart inside. You can’t know quite how that feels unless you have been through it yourself.” — No wonder that people in the first century identified the unruly powers of nature as demonic powers. That is why Jesus shouted at the storm as if the clouds were possessed by a demon. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
7) A ship caught in a dangerous storm on the high seas. Victor Hugo, who is famous for his novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, also wrote a story called “Ninety-Three.” It tells of a ship caught in a dangerous storm on the high seas. At the height of the storm, the frightened sailors heard a terrible crashing noise below the deck. They knew at once that this new noise came from a cannon, part of the ship’s cargo, that had broken loose. It was moving back and forth with the swaying of the ship, crashing into the side of the ship with terrible impact. Knowing that it could cause the ship to sink, two brave sailors volunteered to make the dangerous attempt to retie the loose cannon. They knew the danger of a shipwreck from the cannon was greater than the fury of the storm. — That is like human life. Storms of life may blow about us, but it is not these exterior storms that pose the gravest danger. It is the terrible corruption that can exist within us which can overwhelm us. The furious storm outside may be overwhelming, but what is going on inside can pose the greater threat to our lives. Our only hope lies in conquering that wild enemy. Unfortunately storms that rage within us we cannot cure by ourselves. It takes the power of God’s love, as revealed in Jesus Christ. He is our only hope of stilling the tempest that can harm our souls and cripple our lives. That’s what the disciples learned this day on the Sea of Galilee. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
8) “Every one of us is gonna get a bad report.” Hamilton Jordan is not involved in politics. But he has immersed body and soul in the promotion and funding of cancer research. Part of the shift is because he, himself, contracted cancer three separate times before the age of 50. I heard him tell his story in a variety of settings on Thursday. And each time he told it, one line stood out. Concerning what it’s like to hear bad news from somebody with a white coat and a stethoscope, he said: “It’s not that big a deal anymore, given that (sooner or later) every one of us is gonna get a bad report.” — Which pretty much puts us in the same boat. That’s life. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
9) Alligator in the pond: The Jones family moved to a new house in south Florida near a pond. There were two other houses on the pond, one owned by a doctor. One day, shortly after they moved in, the Jones’ three children went swimming in the pond. Suddenly, out of nowhere a four-hundred-pound alligator appeared. The doctor happened to be out and saw the alligator. He yelled to the children. Two of them heard the cry and headed for shore. The third child, Mike, was under the water using his diving gear to look beneath the surface. The other two children got near the shore, looked back, and saw the alligator bearing down like a torpedo on their brother. One of them started back to warn Mike, but it was too late. The alligator was upon the boy. He was about to swallow him whole, but when the alligator chomped down on the boy’s head, he found the diving gear distasteful and spit him out. Now Mike swam as fast as he could underwater toward the shore. The alligator swam round and round in circles trying to find the boy. When Mike surfaced, the alligator located him and headed toward him again. Mike was about twenty feet from shore when the alligator caught him, this time by the feet. By this time, Mike’s mother, who was on shore, had waded out to where the boy was. She grabbed his extended hands and started to pull. It was a four-hundred-pound alligator pulling in one direction and a one-hundred-pound mother pulling in the other. The flippers which were distasteful to the alligator caused him to let go. The mother won the tug of war. Today, Mike’s only evidence of the horrifying event is scars on his head and feet from the alligator bites and scars on his wrists where his mother’s nails had dug in when she pulled him to safety. Life seemed good to the Joneses. — The family had moved to a new home. The children went swimming in a pond. Then wham, slam — a monster appeared on the scene. How can this happen? How can life be so good one moment and so filled with horror the next? Yet it happens and we feel that we cannot handle it. Sometimes tragedy strikes suddenly, and we feel abandoned and unable to handle what life brings us. God is there, but we do not feel His presence at the time. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
10) “Don’t be afraid — I’ve been watching you all the time.” Linda Sledge recalls a day from her childhood that she will never forget. She was playing in the sand of a Hawaiian beach near where she lived, building towers with her red shovel and bucket. She had wandered away from her parents. Suddenly a great wave knocked her off her feet into the ocean. She managed to get up on her feet, but the sand was flowing out from under her feet. Then another wave struck, and she had no footing. She cried out for her parents. All she could see was the vast ocean ahead. She thought she was doomed. Just then two strong arms reached out from behind and pulled her to safety. “Don’t be afraid,” her father said. “I’ve been watching you all the time.” (The Clergy Journal). — Those are Christ’s words to us. He is not sleeping. He is watching over us. Why are we afraid? Have we no faith? Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
11) “No matter what, son, I’ll always be there for you.” The 1989 Armenian earthquake needed only four minutes to flatten that nation and kill 30,000 people. Moments after that earthquake had stopped, a father raced to an elementary school to save his son. When he arrived, he saw the building had been leveled. Looking at that mass of stones and rubble, his heart sank until he remembered a promise he had made to his little boy, “No matter what happens, I’ll always be there for you.” Driven by that promise he found the area closest to his son’s room and began to pull back the rocks and dig out the dirt. Other parents arrived and began sobbing for their children. They were saying things like, “It’s too late. You know they’re dead. You can’t help.” Even a police officer encouraged him to give up. But that dad refused. For eight hours, then sixteen, then thirty-two, and then thirty-six hours he dug. His hands were raw, his energy was gone, but he refused to quit. Finally, after thirty-eight gut-wrenching hours, he pulled back a boulder and heard his son’s voice. He called out his boy’s name, “Arman! Arman!” A voice answered him saying, “Dad, it’s me!” Then that little boy added priceless words that dad will remember to the day he dies: “Dad, I told the other kids not to worry. I told them if you were alive you would save me, and that when you saved me they would be saved too. Because you promised Dad, ‘No matter what, son, I’ll always be there for you.’” [Jack Canfield and Mark Hanson, Chicken Soup for the Soul, (Deerfield Beach, Florida: Health Communications, 1993), pp. 273-274.] — Dear friends, how much more should we remember the promise of Jesus! How much more should we rest in the presence of Jesus, and how much more shall we rely on the power of Jesus knowing when He says we’ll cross over, we will make it to the other side! Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
12) The never-ending fear-complex: So Aanko Technologies sells high-end anthrax detectors we can mount next to our home smoke alarms, carbon monoxide sensors, and radon detectors. So we build Apocalypse Houses, the newest generation of bomb shelters about which advertisements boast that “your house is designed to still be standing after your neighbors’ homes are in rubble.” So we purchase an Aerial Egress HOPE (High Office Parachute Escape) to stuff in to our desk drawer. So we stock up on Nuke Pills, (potassium iodide pills), to boost our chances of surviving radioactive fallout. So we peruse the fear-factor web sites of ApprovedGasMasks.com, ProtectiveSuits.com, GammaScout.com, saferoom.com, in our search for a portable safe-haven against a biological, chemical, or nuclear attack. There’s a big difference between the kind of fear stalking US society and bolstering the US economy, and the kind of sensible precautionary tone that used to inform safety-conscious people. What school system doesn’t have a stockpile of emergency supplies? Not gas masks and Geiger-counters, but cases of drinking water, granola bars, peanut butter crackers, extra blankets, and first-aid kits just in case something happens, and the school ends up keeping the kids for a few days. Wear your seat belt or risk a fine if you’re pulled over. Motorcyclists are required to wear helmets, and responsible parents insist their bike-riding, skateboarding, rollerblading kids do the same. We’re facing the truth that fallible, fragile, fractured human beings can never be completely in control, completely secure, completely safe in this constantly changing, unfolding, intersecting, spiraling universe. We’re not in charge. You’re not in charge. I’m not in charge. — In today’s Gospel text, the disciples’ fear of a known danger, the winds and waves, causes them to chide a sleeping Jesus for unconcern and inactivity. But Jesus’ demonstration of unknown Divine power causes them to fear their salvation even more than the storm. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
13) “Hurricane party” in the face of a storm named Camille. In 1969, in Pass Christian, Mississippi, a group of people was preparing to have a “hurricane party” in the face of a storm named Camille. Police chief Jerry Peralta pulled up sometime after dark at the posh Richelieu Apartments. Facing the beach less than 250 feet from the surf, the apartments were directly in the line of danger. A man with a drink in his hand came out to the second-floor balcony and waved at the police chief. Peralta yelled up, “You all need to clear out of here as quickly as you can. The storm’s getting worse.” But as other party participants joined the man on the balcony, they just laughed at Peralta’s order to leave. “This is my land,” one of them yelled back. “If you want me off, you’ll have to arrest me.” Peralta didn’t arrest anyone, but he wasn’t able to persuade them to leave either. He wrote down the names of the next of kin of the twenty or so people who gathered there to party through the storm. They laughed as he took their names. They had been warned, but they had no intention of leaving. It was 10:15 p.m. when the front wall of the storm came ashore. Scientists clocked Camille’s wind speed at more than 205 miles-per-hour, the strongest on record and much, much stronger than Hurricane Katrina that would do so much destruction to the Gulf Coast in 2005. Raindrops hit with the force of bullets, and waves off the Gulf Coast crested between twenty-two and twenty-eight feet high. News reports later showed that the worst damage came at the little settlement of motels, go-go bars, and gambling houses known as Pass Christian, where some twenty people were killed at a hurricane party in the Richelieu Apartments. Nothing was left of that three-story structure but the foundation. Of the two-dozen people in the building, only one survived. (1) — Storms come. Sometimes they come suddenly and violently. Storms come. Just as they came to those disciples on the Sea of Galilee. Here’s what’s frustrating: Sometimes when storms come, it seems as if God is asleep. In our text for today, Christ does stir from his slumber. He rebukes the wind and says to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” And they obey. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
14) “The hailstorm gave ultimate flavor and ultimate crispness to these apples.” Robert A. Schuller tells about a farmer in Washington state who was especially proud of the apples he produced every year, and with good reason. His farm was at a high elevation, and the cold winds that came through there made his apples especially crisp and flavorful. Every year, after he harvested his crop, he would polish those apples until they virtually shone. Then he would put them into beautiful packages to show them off. These weren’t your ordinary run-of-the-mill apples but the kind that made beautiful gifts to send loved ones for Thanksgiving and Christmas. As word of his marvelous apples spread, it got to the point where he was inundated with orders even before he had harvested the fruit. One year, just before harvest time, a severe hailstorm pummeled his property. When it was all over, there wasn’t a single apple without blemishes on its skin. There was nothing wrong with the apples. They just didn’t look as pretty as they usually did, and the farmer was afraid that the people who had ordered them might be disappointed and ask for their money back. Then he had an idea. He took all of the apples with the little blemishes on the outside and wrapped every one of them the same way he did every year. He put them in the same kind of packages. Then he added a note. It read: “Notice these high-quality apples. This year represents the finest crop. You can see the blemishes caused by the hailstorm, which created the extreme cold giving the ultimate flavor and ultimate crispness to these apples.” Well, not a single order was returned. In fact, just the opposite happened. The following year when his orders started coming in he had many requests from people who wanted to make sure they got the apples with the blemishes this year, too! [Dump Your Hang-ups (Grand Rapids: Fleming H. Revell, 1993).] — That’s the way it works for people of Faith. We don’t escape the blemishes. We wear them proudly, for we could not be who we are today without the growth that those blemishes brought with them. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
15) “Reach inside there and tell me what you feel.” Some years ago the late, great Norman Vincent Peale visited Europe. In Belgium he went to what used to be a Nazi prison camp, between Antwerp and Brussels. His guide that day told him that he remembered the morning when the Nazis arrested his own father. They brought him to this very camp and shot him. Dr. Peale asked the guide, “How did those prisoners stand up against the awesome fear that must have haunted this place day and night?” The guide replied, “They had a secret.” The guide took Dr. Peale to a small cell far back in a corner where there was just a little slit in a stone wall. “Now,” said the guide, “reach inside there and tell me what you feel.” Dr. Peale reached inside and said, “I feel a stone statue, the facial features of a statue.” The guide said, “What you are feeling is the face of a statue of our Savior Jesus Christ. Those men and women in the darkest hours of their hopelessness would come here and put their hands on His holy and loving face. It was this that sustained them and gave them victory over their fears.” — Victory over fear belongs to those who through Faith can almost touch the face of Christ, those who trust in his promise: “Lo, I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
16) “He told me to come and get you!” Karen Fair tells about her three-year-old daughter, Abby, who was having trouble sleeping through the night. She kept waking up because she was afraid. Each time Karen tucked her into bed again, she would remind her that Jesus was with her and that He would keep her safe. The sleepless nights continued, with Abby seeking comfort in her parents’ bedroom. Finally, one night Karen asked her daughter if she had prayed for Jesus to take her fear away and help her fall asleep. “Oh yes,” Abby assured her. “He told me to come and get you!” (1) Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
17) “I have seen the face of the Captain, and he smiled at me.” Robert Louis Stevenson delighted in the story of a ship tossed in a storm. The sea was rough and the rocky coast perilous. Danger was real and dread expectancy active among the seamen. One frantic sailor who was laboring below the water line could contain himself no longer. He rushed to the control room, closed the door behind himself, and stood frozen in fright watching the captain wrestle with the controls of the huge ship. Skill of mind and strength of hand enabled the captain to guide the vessel through the threatening rocks into open water. The Captain turned slightly, looked at the frightened sailor, and smiled. The youth returned below deck and assured the crew all danger was over. When they inquired how he knew, he answered, “I have seen the face of the Captain, and he smiled at me.” — If you will only, in the words of the hymn, “turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” When you know who is in control there is no fear. [Nelson L. Price, Farewell to Fear (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1983), pg. 28.} Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
18) The Karate Kid: One of my favorite movies is The Karate Kid. It is about a teenager who feels alone and unprotected in the hostile environment of his school and community. He is scared – unable to defend himself against the hoodlums of his neighborhood. It happens that the lad, whose name is Daniel, meets an old man, Mr. Meogi, who has a black belt in Karate. The old man agrees that he will teach him what he knows so that Daniel can protect himself. On the first day of his lessons the old man asks Daniel to wax and polish several old cars that he owns – wax on – wax off. All day the lad labors to follow these instructions – Wax on – Wax off. On the second day the old man asks the boy to paint his fence — paint up – paint down. Again it takes all day. On the third day the master asked him to sand the wooden floor of his verandah – in a circular fashion – and again it takes all day. At the end of the third day the boy is very angry – “I’ve done all this work for you,” he says, “and you still haven’t taught me anything to defend myself.” At this point the master tells Daniel to stand in front of him and do the motion for wax on – wax off. As he does this, the master tries to hit him – but his blows are deflected by the boy’s arms. The boy’s work for Mr. Meogi – his obedience – has made him ready for his first lesson in how to face danger. It has prepared him for the lessons, and the dangers, to follow. — In the course of our lives there are many things that arise and frighten us. There are giants who are hostile to us and all that we hold dear. There are storms that threaten to overwhelm us. Today’s Gospel about Jesus’ calming the storm reminds us that a firm conviction of the living presence of Jesus in our lives and a dynamic relationship with him by prayer – listening to Him and talking to Him – will save us from the unexpected storms of our lives. (Rev. Richard Fairchild). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
19) The eagle and the storm: Do you know that an eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before it breaks? The eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring above it. The eagle does not escape the storm. It simply uses the storm to lift it higher. It rises on the winds that bring the storm. — When the storms of life come upon us, and all of us will experience them , we can rise above them by setting our minds and our belief on God. The storms do not have to overcome us. We can allow God’s power to lift us above them. God enables us to ride the winds of the storm that bring sickness, tragedy, failure, and disappointment into our lives. We can soar above the storm. We need to remember that it is not the burdens of life that weigh us down, but how we handle them. The Bible says, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles” (Is 40:31). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
20) The storms of life and Forrest Gump: I wonder if you have seen the film Forrest Gump. It’s a wonderful film about a young man with learning difficulties who happens to be a really profound and wise man. And Forrest Gump has some great catchphrases, the most famous of which, of course is “Mama always used to say. ‘Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.’” And there is real truth in that, isn’t there? Life is so unpredictable that we don’t know what surprises lie in store for us from day to day, sometimes even from hour to hour…Good things in life take us by surprise and we celebrate those moments. But, sadly, negative and difficult times creep up on us and make an impact on our lives when we least expect them. There are times in our lives when we feel at the mercy of the storm, when we feel as if our lives are as chaotic as the buffeting ocean. Perhaps there is a financial crisis, an illness, a bereavement, or a breakdown of relationship. And we pray and pray and pray but sometimes it as if Jesus is asleep. He doesn’t hear, no matter how loud we shout…But we need to keep calling on the Lord in our most difficult times. Because, in our persistence, we believe that the Lord does hear us and will rebuke the storms, and the chaos of our lives will be stilled. The words of God to us in Isaiah 43 are so beautiful. He promises: “Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.” Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
21) “I am an utter craven coward”: During World War II, a military governor met with General George Patton in Sicily. When he praised Patton highly for his courage and bravery, the general replied, “Sir, I am not a brave man. . . The truth is, I am an utter craven coward. I have never been within the sound of gunshot or in sight of battle in my whole life that I wasn’t so scared that I had sweat in the palms of my hands.” Years later, when Patton’s autobiography was published, it contained this significant statement by the general: “I learned very early in my life never to take counsel of my fears.” — Today’s Gospel describes how the experienced fishermen disciples of Jesus were paralyzed by their fear of the storm in the sea and called out to Jesus for help. Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
22) “I say my prayers when it’s calm”: There is a story of about a captain who in his retirement skippered a boat taking day trippers to Shetland Islands. On one trip the boat was full of young people. They laughed at the old captain when they saw him saying a prayer before sailing out, because the day was fine and the sea was calm. However they weren’t long at sea when a storm suddenly blew up and the boat began to pitch violently. The terrified passengers came to the captain and asked him to join them in prayer. But he replied, “I say my prayers when it’s calm. When it’s rough I attend to my ship.” — There is here a lesson for us. If we cannot and will not seek God in quiet moments of our lives, we are not likely to find him when trouble strikes. But if we learn to seek him in quiet moments, then most certainly we will find him when the going gets rough. (Flor McCarthy, in New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
23) Storm that created the Amazing Grace: John Newton was the son of an English sea captain. When John was ten his mother died and he went to sea with his father. The boy learnt the sea backward and forward. At 17 he rebelled against his father, left the ship, and began living a wild life. Eventually John took a job on a cargo ship that carried slaves from Africa to America. He was promoted rapidly and soon became captain of the ship. Newton never worried whether slave trade was right or wrong. He just did it. It was a way to make money. Then something happened that changed all that. One night a violent storm blew up at sea. The waves grew to the size of mountains. They picked up Newton’s ship and threw it around like a toy. Everyone on board was filled with panic. Then Newton did something he hadn’t done since his leaving his father’s ship. He prayed. Shouting at the top of his voice, he said, “God, if only you save us, I promise to be your slave forever.” God heard his prayer and the ship survived. When Newton reached land he kept his promise and quit the slave trade. Later he studied for ministry and was ordained pastor of a small church in Olney, England. There he won fame as a preacher and as a composer of hymns. One of the most moving hymns that Newton wrote is the one in which Newton praises God for the gift of conversion, Amazing Grace. The words read: “Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound,/that saved a wretch like me!/ I once was lost but now I am found / Was blind, but now I see…” (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
24) Why Worry? When Bulstrode Whitelock was about to embark as Cromwell’s envoy to Sweden in 1655, he was much disturbed in mind as he rested in Harwich on the preceding night, which was very stormy, while he reflected on the distracted state of the nation. It happened that a confidential servant slept in an adjacent bed, who finding that his master could not sleep said: “Pray, sir, will you give me leave to ask you a question?” “Certainly”, replied Whitelock. “Pray, sir, don’t you think God governed the world very well before you came into it?” “Undoubtedly!” “And pray, sir, don’t you think he can take care of it while you are in it?” To this question Whitelock had nothing to reply, but turning about, soon fell asleep. (Anthony Castle in Quotes and Anecdotes; quoted by Fr. Botelho). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
25) He is always with us and for us: A young Indian boy approached manhood and, as the custom with his tribe, he had to undergo several tests to prove his bravery, before acceptance into the fighting braves of the tribe. He was brought out into the middle of a jungle and left there alone all night. He was terrified. Every leaf that fell, every branch that creaked, every movement in the underground caused his heart to pound. He never knew a night could be so long. On several occasions, he would have run away, but where does one run in a jungle in the middle of the night? After what seemed an eternity, the light of dawn began to filter through the trees. In a relatively short time his eyes got used to the growing light, and soon he was able to see clearly. He moved from where he was and as he approached the nearest tree he was amazed to find his father standing there with a gun. He had stood there on guard all night long. The young lad’s instant response was to think, “If I had known that my father was watching over me like that, I would have slept soundly all night.” — When you die, you will discover that your Father was standing guard there all the time. (Jack McArdle in And That’s the Gospel Truth!). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
26) A Golden Labrador, came lumbering toward us. Some years ago I was out walking with a friend when a large dog, a Golden Labrador, came lumbering toward us. I had grown up with dogs and thus could tell the difference between a dog moving aggressively and one approaching benignly seeking merely to establish contact. But my friend had not grown up with dogs and in fact had been bitten by one as a youngster. Each of us looked at the dog approaching us. We saw the same scene but reacted to it very differently. My friend was afraid, while I was delighted. He reacted angrily and defensively. I put my hand out and greeted the dog, patting it on the head and letting it smell my hand. With my experience, I was able to bring peace to the situation. An agitated reaction might well have provoked the dog to turn aggressive. — And so we see something similar here in the boat. Jesus is able to sleep peacefully in the storm, but the disciples are panicked. Jesus knows His Father; He also knows the end of the story. Do you? Have you not read that for those who love and trust in the Lord all things work together for good? (cf Rom 8:28) Why are we so afraid? Storms will come and storms will go, but if we love God we will be saved, even if we die to this world. If you have this peace, you too will calm storms. Peaceful people have an effect on others around them. We cannot give what we do not have. Ask the Lord for a heart that is at peace, not just for your own sake but for that of others. Because He is at peace, Jesus can rebuke the storm. How about you? (Msgr. Clarke Pope). Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/) (L-21)
"I say my prayers when it's calm."
There is a story of about a captain who in his retirement skippered a boat taking day trippers to Shetland Islands. On one trip the boat was full of young people. They laughed at the old captain when they saw him saying a prayer before sailing out, because the day was fine and the sea was calm. However they weren't long at sea when a storm suddenly blew up and the boat began to pitch violently. The terrified passengers came to the captain and asked him to join them in prayer. But he replied, "I say my prayers when it's calm. When it's rough I attend to my ship." -There is here a lesson for us. If we cannot and will not seek God in quiet moments of our lives, we are not likely to find him when trouble strikes. But if we learn to seek him in quiet moments, then most certainly we will find him when the going gets rough.
Flor McCarthy, in 'New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies'
In today's gospel Mark tells us that Jesus was right there with his disciples, in the boat, in the middle of the storm, sleeping. It was he who took the initiative of crossing the lake. After the fatigue of the day, he fell asleep. He slept even when it began to blow a gale -which caused panic among his companions. The disciples failed to understand how Jesus could sleep through it all. They could not comprehend that the presence of Jesus didn't mean that they would never encounter difficulties. But they did know that when problems arose they could call on him. They woke him up and said to him. "Master do you not care? We are going down!" After Jesus is awakened he stands up and as though he were exorcising a demon, rebukes the powers of death which batter against the boat. He questions his disciples: "Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?" Suddenly all is calm again while a religious awe descends on the disciples. 'Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him?"
God is like a lifebelt?
One day while on a journey across country a man came to a river. While attempting to cross the river, the current swept him off his feet, and to his horror he found himself being carried down river. Unable to swim all he could do was cry out for help. Luckily an alert passer-by heard his cries and threw a lifebelt to him. He grabbed the lifebelt and held on for dear life with both hands until he was pulled ashore. There he quickly recovered from the shock. Then he put the lifebelt back in its place on the riverbank and resumed his journey. -Everyone turns to God in times of danger. We see this example in today's Gospel. In their grave need the apostles cry out to Jesus for help: "Lord save us. We are going down." There are some who turn to God only then. For such people God is their lifebelt -useful in crisis but otherwise useless. But for people of faith God is the air they breathe, the bread they eat, the path they walk, everything.
Flor McCarthy, in 'New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies'
John Newton was the son of an English sea captain. When John was ten his mother died and he went to sea with his father. The boy learnt the sea backward and forward. At 17 he rebelled against his father, left the ship, and began living a wild life. Eventually John took a job on a cargo ship that carried slaves from Africa to America. He was promoted rapidly and soon became captain of the ship. Newton never worried whether slave trade was right or wrong. He just did it. It was a way to make money. Then something happened that changed all that. One night a violent storm blew up at sea. The waves grew to the size of mountains. They picked up Newton's ship and threw it around like a toy. Everyone on board was filled with panic. Then Newton did something he hadn't done since his leaving his father's ship. He prayed. Shouting at the top of his voice, he said, "God, if only you save us, I promise to be your slave forever." God heard his prayer and the ship survived. When Newton reached land he kept his promise and quit the slave trade. Later he studied for ministry and was ordained pastor of a small church in Olney, England. There he won fame as a preacher and as a composer of hymns. One of the most moving hymns that Newton wrote is the one that praises God for his conversion, Amazing Grace. The words read: Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost but now I am found - Was blind, but now I see…
Mark Link in 'Sunday Homilies'
Lord I'm Sinking…
"Artists have used the image of the boat in today's gospel to symbolize the Church. Since the parish and individual families within the parish are the Church in miniature, the boat is also an apt symbol to represent us. Many times storms toss us around like tiny corks on the ocean, causing us to cry out in fear. "Lord do you not care? Doesn't it matter to you that we are going down? We feel that our boat is at breaking point and that we're going under. But if we have faith in the Lord's power to control these seemingly uncontrollable forces in our lives, we can ride the storm and reach the farther shore. Who control's our destiny? The Lord does, if only we let him steady our hands and steer our ship."
Albert Cylwicki in 'His Word Resounds'
When Bulstrode Whitelock was about to embark as Cromwell's envoy to Sweden in 1655, he was much disturbed in mind as he rested in Harwich on the preceding night, which was very stormy, while he reflected on the distracted state of the nation. It happened that a confidential servant slept in an adjacent bed, who finding that his master could not sleep said: "Pray, sir, will you give me leave to ask you a question?" "Certainly", replied Whitelock. "Pray, sir, don't you think God governed the world very well before you came into it?" "Undoubtedly!" "And pray, sir, don't you think he can take care of it while you are in it?" To this question Whitelock had nothing to reply, but turning about, soon fell asleep.
Anthony Castle in 'Quotes and Anecdotes'
On Eagle's Wings…
The story is told of a mother eagle that had built her nest on the ledge of a rock jutting precariously over a steep and dangerous precipice. Soaring through the air one day, returning to her nest, she was startled by what she saw. Clinging desperately to the jagged edge of a rock at the top of the canyon was her baby eagle, struggling to prevent a fall that was sure to crush its body more than a thousand feet below. Unable to get to the ledge before her little one would fall, the mother eagle, with the speed of lightening, swooped low beneath the jutting rock, spread her strong wings to break the fall of her darling, and with her precious cargo clinging to the feathers of her mighty wings glided safely to the canyon below.
He is always with us and for us
A young Indian boy approached manhood and, as the custom with his tribe, he had to undergo several tests to prove his bravery, before acceptance into the fighting braves of the tribe. He was brought out into the middle of a jungle and left there alone all night. He was terrified. Every leaf that fell, every branch that creaked, every movement in the underground caused his heart to pound. He never knew a night could be so long. On several occasions, he would have run away, but where does one run in a jungle in the middle of the night? After what seemed an eternity, the light of dawn began to filter through the trees. In a relatively short time his eyes got used to the growing light, and soon he was able to see clearly. He moved from where he was and as he approached the nearest tree he was amazed to find his father standing there with a gun. He had stood there on guard all night long. The young lad's instant response was to think, 'If I had known that my father was watching over me like that, I would have slept soundly all night'. When you die, you will discover that your Father was standing guard there all the time.
Jack McArdle in 'And that's the Gospel truth!'
May our trust in Him grow through every storm that we face in life!
Mark 4:35-41 - "Calming of the Tempest"
Mark 4:35-41 - "Stand by Me" by Leonard Sweet
That is like human life. Storms of life may blow about us, but it is not these exterior storms that pose the gravest danger. It is the terrible corruption that can exist within us which can overwhelm us. The furious storm outside may be overwhelming but what is going on inside can pose the greater threat to our lives. Our only hope lies in conquering that wild enemy...
1. Storms Come Suddenly.
2. Storms Can Make You Lose Direction.
3. Our Fear of the Storm Has the Power to Paralyze.
As summer heats up it is important to always bring a sweater with you.
Huh?! (Yes, I know a sweater is something your mother puts on you when she is cold!)
Likewise if you head to Minnesota in mid-winter you would be wise to bring something lightweight and with short sleeves.
These seemingly illogical suggestion are actually good ideas. Why? Because our culture is addicted to "climate control." Air conditioning and central heating make it possible for us to create any kind of climate, any sort of indoor "weather," we want. Since we still cannot control what kind of weather we encounter outside, in the real world, we over-compensate in our encapsulated climates - our homes, shopping malls, restaurants, office buildings, airplanes...
To someone like me, who was rescued from drowning in wind and wave, the imagery is very powerful without even descending to a symbolic level. I can recall being physically tossed about by powerful waves and buffeted by the cold wind; I know what it is like to be sinking in the sea for what seems to be the very last time, although in my case I didn't have the benefit of a boat to slow my demise. I understand with absolute clarity how the disciples must have felt as disaster overtook them while their Master slept.
I lived out this Bible story on March 12, 1967 in a very literal way.
Since then, I have had several occasions to live it out in a metaphorical way, and I am ashamed that I still haven't learned my lesson despite all these years.
You know what I am talking about: there are times in your life when you know a great upheaval is coming. The wind rises ominously and the clouds don't look right. People suddenly start doing and saying strange things and you know something is afoot. Relatives fall prey to strange persuasions; your health might even fail. The news on television starts sounding Biblical, and there are rumors the like of which you haven't heard before. Your life is tossed upon the waves like a small ship on an angry sea. Panic sets in as you decide that the end of something is near; if not your family, if not your finances, if not your career, then maybe the whole world!
"Master, Master," you cry to God, "Don't you even care that I am perishing?"
And you sit in your quiet room and stare at the ceiling, as if all your prayers never got past that point, and the silence from heaven is deafening. At most points in your life, if you heard an audible voice in answer to your prayer, you'd smile and look for the person who's playing a joke on you. Or perhaps you'd search the yellow pages for a good psychiatrist who specializes in auditory hallucinations; but today in your distress there is a part of you that demands to hear what you've never heard, to see what you've never seen, because you are scared to your innermost being and you need comfort and rescue, and you need it now.
How impudent of God not to answer. Doesn't He know what you're going through?
Kenneth W. Collins, 'Unanswered' Prayer?
When I was a kid, I was terrified of spiders. Even Daddy Long Legs, which I now understand are not, technically, spiders but have a very spiderly look about them, scared me to death. Once, almost literally, when one leapt out of a half bushel of peaches we had just bought by a road side stand, I leapt out of the car into the road. Fear can do that.
My sisters and brother didn't help. They enjoyed picking Daddy Long Legs up by a long leg and chasing me around the yard!
Since then, my fears have grown up a little. Now I fear things that really can hurt me like the national debt and global warming. Yesterday, the headlines named another fear, terrorists, this time, U.S. citizens, independent, guided by some 5,000 do-it-yourself terrorist self-help websites.
On top of these overwhelming world fears, each of us carries personal fears - a deadline, a pink slip, a visa bill, a doctor's appointment. We all have spiders - some fear that gets us in the gut.
These are fearful times, but then - they always have been. You would think, if ever there were a time and people who would be fearless it would be the disciples, walking and living in the very presence of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, Light of the World, 2000 years ago. But as Mark tells it, they could panic right along with the best of us.
Heather Entrekin, When We Are Afraid
Listen for the Questions
The Scriptures include a significant number of life-and-death questions about meaning, purpose and value in life. Consider some of the questions posed by Scripture:
What will it profit us if we gain the whole world but forfeit our life? (Matthew 16:26)
Who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16:15)
What are you looking for? (John 1:38)
Who is my neighbor? (Like 10:29)
What must I do to inherit eternal life? (Mark 10:17)
Who can separate us from the love of Christ? (Romans 8:35)
Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? (Mark 10:38)
Which commandment is the first of all? (Mark 12:28)
Where can I go from your Spirit? (Psalm 139:7).
What is this new teaching, with authority? (Mark 1:27)
Who is this about whom I hear such things? (Luke 9:9)
What is truth? (John 18:38)
And this morning's Gospel lesson ends with the question, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" (Mark 4:41). Who is this Jesus, the one who speaks with a new level of authority, the one who is able to bring calm into the storms of life, the one who comes among us as prince of peace, suffering servant, fount of compassion and grace?
Joel D. Kline, Listen for the Questions
Humor: Sucked In, Washed Up, Blown Over
Chippie the parakeet never saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched in his cage. The next he was sucked in, washed up, and blown over.
The problems began when Chippie's owner decided to clean Chippie's cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up. She'd barely said "hello" when "ssssopp!" Chippie got sucked in.
The bird's owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum cleaner, and opened the bag. There was Chippie - still alive, but stunned.
Since the bird was covered with dust, hair and all the stuff you find in a dust bag, she grabbed him and raced to the bathroom, turned on the tap, and held Chippie under the running water. Then, realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do . . . she reached for the hair dryer and blasted the pet with hot air.
Poor Chippie never knew what hit him.
A few days after the trauma, a friend who had heard about Chippie's troubles contacted his owner to see how the bird was recovering. "Well," she replied, "Chippie doesn't sing much anymore - he just sits and stares."
Who can blame him? Sucked in, washed up, and blown over . . . That's enough to steal the song from the stoutest heart.
Things happen in our lives that come along unexpectedly and we end up feeling a bit like Chippie - sucked in, washed up, and blown over - the song stolen from the stoutest of hearts.
I reckon there are very few here this morning who couldn't stand up and give testimony to some aspect of their lives where they feel a bit like the disciples in that boat - afraid, vulnerable, a decidedly sinking feeling! You know what it's like to feel as though you are in the middle of a storm, tossed this way and that, and you wonder how you're ever going to get to calmer waters.
Vince Gerhardy, Calm in a Storm
Hard Work Is Required
Somewhere in my past, it was pointed out to me that having the wind stop is disastrous for sail boats. It means that the sailors have to do hard, manual labor to move the boat to where it is going. Even the presence of Christ and his great miracles may still mean a lot of hard work on our part to get where Christ wants us to go. If Jesus wanted the disciples on the other side of the lake, why not just "beam them over," rather than have them go through a storm and then to row the boat to shore?
While we may pray that Jesus would work miracles in our lives and in our world and in our neighborhoods, the miracles that come probably won't let us off the hook from doing some of the hard work required to do what Jesus has called us to do.
Brian Stoffregen, Exegetical Notes
Courage in the Midst of Fear
I have several books on the shelves in my office that have stories of genuine heroes in them. These are people who have performed remarkable acts of courage. I find their stories thrilling. I also find them a little unsettling. How do people do those things? In a real crisis, what is to keep me from running in the other direction? The stories I like best are the ones that talk about courage in the midst of fear. Those are people I can really admire ... people who are scared to death and still do what needs to be done.
One such person was Marshall Ney, a captain in Napoleon's army. Napoleon often referred to Marshall Ney as the bravest man he had ever known. Yet, the captain's knees trembled so badly one morning before a battle that he had trouble getting on his horse. When he was finally in the saddle, he looked at his knees and said with disgust, "Shake away, knees. You would shake worse than that if you knew where I am going to take you." Now that's a man I can really like!
Kristin Borsgard Wee, Sermons for Sundays after Pentecost (First Third): Do You Love Me?, CSS Publishing Company, Inc.
The Four Chaplains
On a cold February 4, 1943, the American ship, the Dorchester, was carrying several hundred soldiers off the coast of Greenland. Suddenly, an enemy torpedo ripped into its hull. Within minutes the ship would go under. Amid the panic and confusion, four chaplains, Alex Good, Jewish; John Washington, Catholic; Clark Poling and George Fox, Protestants, stood together with their life belts on. Many of the soldiers had none. Without lifeboats, their chances for survival were nil. Quickly, the chaplains took off their belts and gave them to four men. As the ship sank, the chaplains, with hands firmly clasped, prayed the Lord's prayer. The chaplains gave their lives for the others, because One other had first stood in for them. "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:12) That's a tall order. Well, not so unreal, considering his love stands taller than life itself.
James Weekley, Tilted Haloes, CSS Publishing Company
Why Not You?
A ministerial colleague tells of a conversation he had one day with a female medical assistant in a doctor's office, as he was waiting to see the doctor. The woman recognized him because she had occasionally attended his church, though she was a member of another church. "I want to tell you about my experience," she said. "I got saved in the Assemblies of God Church ... I gave my life to God ... and guess what? ... Life tumbled in! I developed a heart problem. My husband lost his executive job ... and he recently died of cancer." The minister says he tried to mumble a few theological sounding explanatory words about God's mysterious ways, thinking that was what the woman wanted. But she went right on with her story, indicating that she had repeatedly asked God, "Why me?" "And what do you think God told me?" she continued. "'Why not you?' That's what God said. 'Why should you be spared all the crises of life that everyone else must go through?'" Then she wound up her story saying, "One day I said to God, 'Lord, you've forgiven me. Now I forgive you.'"
There is a woman who, from my point of view, has a healthy faith. Her faith is not a series of propositions, it is a relationship, and as in all relationships, it is one that changes and can tolerate challenges. It is vital because it is honest.
David G. Rogne, Sermons for Sundays after Pentecost, CSS Publishing Company
Pastor John Ortberg has a delight discussion on porcupines in his book, Everybody's Normal Until You Get to Know Them. Porcupines are members of the rodent family, says Ortberg. They have around 30,000 quills attached to their bodies. Each quill can be driven into an enemy, and the enemy's body heat will cause the microscopic barb to expand and become more firmly embedded. The wounds can fester; the more dangerous ones, affecting vital organs, can be fatal.
The porcupine is not generally regarded as a lovable animal, Ortberg continues. Books and movies celebrate almost every other conceivable animal. Dogs, cats, horses, pigs like Babe or Arnold Ziffel in the old TV show Green Acres, spiders as in Charlotte's Web, dolphins like Flipper, bears like Gentle Ben, and killer whales as in Free Willy. Even skunks have Pepe Le Pew. There are no famous porcupines.
"As a general rule, porcupines have two methods for handling relationships: withdrawal and attack...