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Breath of the Spirit

Pastoral, Liturgical, Teaching, and Social Justice Moments brought to you by DignityUSA.

Breath of the Spirit is our electronic spiritual and liturgical resource for our members and potential members. Nothing can replace your chapter or other faith community but we hope you will find further support here for integrating your spirituality with your sexuality and all the strands of your life.

 

Mark presumed all people of faith often feel abandoned by the person in whom they’ve placed their faith. They sense they’re “perishing” and no one – even Jesus – gives a darn about them.

 

JUNE 21ST 2015: TWELFTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR

Readings:

Job 38:1, 8-11
II Corinthians 5:14-17
Mark 4:35-41

The summer before I left to study theology in Rome one of the older Sisters who did domestic chores in the hospital in which I worked gave me one of the most meaningful gifts I’ve ever received. It was a funeral home calendar picture of the scene depicted in today’s gospel: Jesus calming the storm. She’d carefully put it between two sheets of plastic, woven boondoggle around the perimeter and glued a cardboard stand on its backside. “I know you’re going to have a hard time in Rome,” she said. “I’ve heard seminarians really have to study hard there. But when you’re tempted to give up, look at this picture. If Jesus could calm that storm at sea, he can also calm the storms in your life.”

Though her fear of my having to work hard was obviously engendered by seminarian “propaganda,” Sister Baptist’s message that afternoon completely mirrored the message Mark was trying to convey by including this miracle story in his gospel.

Marcan scholars are convinced Mark accomplished this by first taking a miracle story used by preachers to emphasize Jesus’ power over nature and adding several phrases to make it applicable to his readers’ everyday lives. The added lines are, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing? . . . Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith? . . .  Even the wind and sea obey him.”

Mark presumed all people of faith often feel abandoned by the person in whom they’ve placed their faith. They sense they’re “perishing” and no one – even Jesus – gives a darn about them.

Yet it’s in the very midst of our feeling abandoned that we most encounter the risen Jesus, assuring us that we need to put more of our faith in him/her, not less. The evangelist believes that it’s precisely during those times that Jesus expects us to give ourselves more intensely to others, and not give into the temptation to back off from those acts of faith which our imitation of Jesus demand.

After all, someone whom even the “sea and wind obey” must be powerful enough, as Sister Baptist pointed out, to calm the storm of abandonment in our own personal lives. When we’re dealing with God, we’re dealing with a unique person.

As we hear in today’s first reading, Yahweh’s “otherness” was the only thing which could explain the sudden, devastating influx of evil in Job’s life. Job eventually came to understand that Yahweh could do things which he could only dream about. If we presume God’s unexplainable actions in nature, why should we question God’s unexplainable actions in our own lives? Yahweh operates on levels we humans can’t comprehend.

But, as Paul reminds the other Christs in the Corinthian church, we’re expected to do more than just admire the way God operates. Our becoming one with the risen Jesus means we’ve also become part of God’s incomprehensible world.  We, like the risen Jesus, are now “new creations,” expected to live our lives on a new level; a level on which “we no longer live for ourselves, but for him who for our sake died and was raised.”

It’s significant that Paul never personally knew the historical Jesus: the itinerant preacher who lived in Palestine during 6 BCE and 30 CE. Like ourselves, the Apostle experienced only the risen Jesus. That means he wasn’t “distracted” by Jesus’ humanity. On the Damascus road, Paul stepped instantly into a new world; a world in which his faith in Jesus’ presence grew even in those moments when he felt most deserted by God - something we need to be assured of every day of our lives.

 

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