Detailed homily for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: OUR GOD NEITHER SLEEPS NOR SLUMBERS
By: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
Homily forSunday June 20 2021
R1 – Job 8:1, 8-11
RESP PS – Ps 107:23-26,28-32
R2 – 2Cor 5:14-17
GOSPEL – Mk 4:35-41
One of the greatest tragedies of the 20th Century is the unimaginable and unprecedented sinking of RMS Titanic.
The RMS Titanic sank in the early morning hours of 15 April 1912 in the North Atlantic Ocean, four days into her maiden voyage from Southanpton to New York City. The largest ocean liner in service at the time, Titanic had an estimated 2,224 people on board when she struck an iceberg at around 23:40 (ship’s time)
on Sunday, 14 April 1912. Her sinking two hours and forty minutes later at 02:20 (ship’s time; 05:18 GMT) on Monday, 15 April, resulted in the deaths of more than 1,500 people, making it one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.
The most fascinating and surprising fact about this luxuriant ship, RMS Titanic, is that it was tagged, “THE UNSINKABLE SHIP” because of the sophistication of its constituents, as described by the chief designer Thomas Andrews, the Captain Smith, to White Star Chairman Bruce Ismay. Indicating that no force in heaven and on earth, not even God has the capacity to sink the famous RMS Titanic. Even, one of the passengers, Sylvia Caldwell, with her husband, was boarding the Titanic in Southampton on Sailing Day, April 10th, 1912, she asked a crewman of the ship, who was still on the dock, whether this ship( referring to Titanic) was really unsinkable, he answered “God himself couldn’t sink this ship.” It was the age of renaissance humanism – They trusted the human strength and abilities at the expense of God.
Unfortunately, the “unsinkable” sank after after a shipwreck caused by iceberg; claiming many lives, including Thomas Andrews who felt he could challenge God by insisting, “not even God can sink the luxurious Titanic.”
Beloved in Christ, Jesus demonstrates to us today, that without him as the captain of the ship of our lives, we are bound to be experiencing shipwreck as the storms of life toss us around.
The readings of this Sunday’s Liturgy, make it clear that amidst the deepest storms and tempestuous times we experience in our country, lives, marriages, business, health and relationships, Jesus is still handling the steering. He is never asleep and can never desert us.
In the first reading, God addresses Job who had thought that God was really asleep when he was hit by the storms of abandonment by God, loss of property and loved ones; questioning his right to challenge God’s authority and leading Job deeper and deeper into the mystery of creation.
Paul, who “rode the storm” of rejection by his former friends, also experienced storms of violent hostility from the Jews who refused to believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah. So, he explains in the second reading that Jesus died for us to make us a “new creation.”
In the Gospel reading, Jesus assures us that no situation can stop us in as much as He is still handling the steering, because, no power or force can rival with His. The Gospel reading describes how, by a single commanding word, Jesus stilled a storm on the Sea of Galilee, returned the sea to its natural order and saved the apostles from drowning. The incident reminds us that Jesus, resting in our life’s boat is always ready to help us in the storms of life.
*WHEN GOD IS ASLEEP*
Is Christ asleep? This is a fundamental question that requires immediate attention. Do we really think that Jesus didn’t know what was happening as He dozed in the back of the boat? Of course not. He knows everything. And He is always there. We may feel that He is absent or sleeping, but He is not.
However, the scripture says, “You see — he neither sleeps nor slumbers, the guardian of Israel” (Ps 121:4).
The Greek Interlineer Bible uses the verb ” _katheudon_ ” (Kata = downward movement or towards + heudo = to sleep or rest), meaning, “to lie down to rest, i.e. (by implication) to fall asleep (literally or figuratively):–(be a-)sleep.
But the emphasis here is that it was a period when it looks as if God is passive, inactive, inattentive or silent over our lives. Like the disciples we might often be tempted to think that God is asleep, when we sit by, helplessly watching the sufferings of a loved one, or in the face of personal tragedy, or in times of depression or disaster. In such moments we instinctively turn to God, and yet sometimes we don’t find Him or He seems far away, apparently busy with other matters. But, the question of the apostles, “Lord we are perishing, do you not care?” is equally an indication that the apostles still did not know who Jesus was, like many of us; that He is the word through whom all things were made; He is the one who wrought all things in being; He alone, has the capacity to save the world (Acts 4:12).
*THE MARKAN AUDIENCE – A MORALE BOOST.*
The Gospel of Mark, which is often regarded as the “Primo Evangelium” (First Gospel), is replete with Jesus’ miraculous and wondrous works as a way of helping his audience to recognize Jesus’ true Messianic identity as he who can do all things and fix every of our problems – revealing Jesus’ unequivocal triumph over natural, physical and metaphysical forces. However, today’s miracle of the stilling of the sea is described in Mark for the same purpose. By describing this miracle, Mark also assures the First-Century believers who were his targeted audience that nothing can harm the Church as long as the risen Lord is with them. Mark’s audience in Rome in the 60 AD surely felt that way as they faced the persecution by the Emperor Nero during which both Peter and Paul were probably martyred. Mark presents the person of Jesus as in control of the forces of chaos, and hence able to still the storms which threaten to overturn the community of the Church.
(1) *YOU CANNOT SINK IN A SHIP THAT JESUS IS SAILING*
The disciples followed Jesus onto the ship. He is the Shepherd and He knows everything. The stotms of life, storms of marriage, the storms of illness, storms of unemployment you are dealing with have not come to drown you but to teach you how to swim and navigate through life. Jesus response, Peace! Be calm now! reveals what happens when Jesus is handling the steering – Fr Chidubem Ohaeri defines *_P-E-A-C-E as: P PROBLEMS, E – EXPIRES, A- AS, C- CHRIST, E-ENTERS.*_ So, once Jesus comes into the storms of your life, you will experience calmness. If Jesus can quench the storms of life, why run after, nwanyi mmiri or nwoke mmiri na asa uchu, or all these diabolical spiritualists who display and advertise their duping enterprise on Facebook and other social media platforms?
(2) *A CHILD OF GOD THRIVES MORE WHEN THERE IS STORM*
The scripture records that while the apostles were pacing, panicking, gasping and worrying, Jesus was chilling. At difficult moments, Jesus shines and reveals his truest identity.
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. So, 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, “
How are you viewing your situation? Shift and think like your God. If He is not worried, neither should you. If God is not stressed out, why are you stressed out? The bible says: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles” (Is 40:31).
(3) *WHENEVER WE CRY OUT TO GOD HE WILL ANSWER.*
The disciples who were nervous at a perilous time, saw the waves and water getting in the boat cried unto Jesus and went to wake Him up.
By crying out to Jesus for help shows, they believed in His authority. Jesus woke up and calmed the storm. To whose authority do u appeal to when the storm rages?
Even though He rebuked the disciples for their lack of faith, the reality is the boat stopped rocking. Rise up today, don’t stop calling on Him, Jesus will pay attention to your situation.
Finally, a certain king wanted to test the bravery and manhood of his two sons; as the custom of his tribe requires undergoing several tests to prove their bravery, before acceptance into the fighting braves of the tribe. The father brought them out into the middle of a jungle, a place of habitat for lions and left them there all night. They were terrified. Every leaf that fell, every branch that creaked, every movement in the underground caused their hearts to pound. At midnight, these two boy heard the roaring of the lion from a distance, and the elderly one took his mat and spoke to his brother, “Daddy is very wicked; why would be abandon us in this deadliest jungle to perish.” As he set out to leave, the younger one replied, “Daddy must have a reason for leaving us here; I strongly believe that he will not allow us to perish.” The elder brother left. The roaring of the lion for the second time, left the faithful son with yet a heart-aching panic. But he assured himself, “I know my Daddy will not allow me to perish; there must be a reason why he wants us to stay here.” On the long run, he never knew a night could be so long. As he set out to take a peaceful nap, there came a fiercely roar of the lion, now at a close range. Waking up and trying to escape, brought him face to face with the lion who jumped up to devour him…. Lo and behold, there came an intervention from no where. A gun shot was triggered from an unknown destination, which hit and killed the lion. The young boy looked around only to behold his father with his gun coming towards him. The son who was quite amazed to find his father standing there with a gun, shouted, “Dad, so you were here all night… I thought you abandoned me.” “No son, (replied the father), I wouldn’t abandon you here. While you slept and panicked throughout the night, I was all awake, watching over you.” The young boy, with a sigh of relief said, “If I had known that my father was watching over me like that, I would have slept soundly all through the night.”
Beloved, your God is ever watchful over you. He either sleeps nor slumbers (Ps 121:4). He has even sent millions of angelic hosts to keep watch over you, lest you strike your foot against a stone (Ps 91:11).
MAY WE NEVER LOSE SIGHT OF THE FACT THAT GOD CARES ABOUT US AND WILL NEVER ALLOW HIS BELOVED TO KNOW DECAY (Ps 16:10) NOR EXPERIENCE SHAME (Dan 3:40).
*FR GERALD MUOKA*