Catholic Mass Readings and Reflection June 23, 2024


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R/. . O give thanks to the Lord for he is good; for his mercy endures forever!

V/. Alleluia

R/. Alleluia

V/. A great prophet has arisen among us! and God has visited his people!

R/. Alleluia.

On that day, when evening had come, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

1.      In the gospel, the scene is dramatic and vivid. The disciples are sailing in a boat. Jesus too is with them. It is hit by heavy storms. The boat is on the verge of sinking. They stand at the door of perishing. They get panicky. They look for Jesus. He is “peacefully” sleeping on a cushion. The natural human feelings rise up. They get all the more annoyed. They feel bad at this apparent indifference toward their desperate fate. They give vent to their displeasure and frustration. They wake him up and confront him, saying, “do you not care that we are perishing?”

2.      Their situation very much represents our own life situation as well. Life is a boat in a constant sea-sail, surmounted by storms. The sail gets harder and harder. The storms will threaten to sink the boat and perish life as well. What is interesting and subject to questioning is, the Lord himself asks them, “Let us go across to the other side”. It is he who proposes the sail and initiates them. But what is more worrisome is that the Lord himself seems unbothered and unconcerned about it.

3.      Fear grips and faith wavers. The boat of life is hit hard. Problems and afflictions enter violently into the boat. They frighten to drown it. We feel lost and gone. In such situations, we even forget the truth that as long as the Lord is with us, nothing can harm us and destroy us. Like the disciples, we too get annoyed that he is resting peacefully while we are restless in tension. We may also confront and question him many times that he is not bothered about us.

4.      In such frightening and losing moments, what to do and how to counter such a situation? Be focused on the Lord. Deep within, remember that the Lord is present with us in the same boat, and as long as he is with us, no harm can betide us, no storm can drown us. Be confident that he will never allow us to sink and perish. We may come under pressure. We may feel that God is not attentive toward our gripping situations, that he does not understand the gravity of them. But listen to him what he tells the disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” The Lord repeats the same words to us as well in our stormy times: “Why are you afraid? Am I not with you? Will I leave you to your fate? Will I allow you to struggle helplessly? Will I deliver you to misery? Have faith in me. I will deliver you. I will sustain your journey. I will calm the storms, I will restore peace and serenity. I will remove your fears”

5.      Therefore, let us not entertain wishful thinking that there should be no storms, no struggles, and adversities in life. Let us not be unrealistic that life should be always smooth sailing. Rather, what is needed is to sail ahead through all the possible and expected inclement and unfavourable situations. This is possible only when we have a strong rudder and weapon and a clear beacon of faith. In the words of Paul in the second reading from 2 Cor 5. 14-17, this means to “become a new creation in Christ, where the old has passed away and the new has come”.

6.      There is also another notable factor in the whole episode. As soon as the disciples awoke the Lord expressing their annoyance, Jesus does not get into argument. He does not begin to admonish them about their lack of faith. There is no discourse. Instantly and immediately, he attends to their need. He rebukes the sea and calms the storm. He commands and controls, “Peace! Be still!” And only then, he does the corrective. This is also a useful lesson for all of us, especially when we have the sacred duty of correcting and guiding others. Before giving them big moral instructions, let us understand their problem and situation. Let us cater to their need. Let us instill confidence and calm in them. There is no use in moralizing the whole issue without understanding and resolving the issue. It will only demoralize those concerned.

7.      We can also draw another profitable lesson for us from the beginning statement of Jesus. Jesus initiates and encourages the disciples, “Let us go across to the other side”. Let us not comment that if they did not go across to the other side, then there would be no storm and no problem. Rather, let us note a significant directive for our life. Many times, we prefer to play it safe, we do not want to sail to the other side. We do not want to face possible risks. We want to remain on one side only, settled and in comfort zones. But let us remember that unless we sail to the other side, we will not experience the power of Jesus that which controls everything, and thus experience the calm and serenity that he alone can restore.

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