First, let me begin, by saying Thank you….
A very heartfelt, honest and true thank you…not only for your presence here tonight, but for all the times you have joined us in prayer in the past or if this is your first time, thank you for your prayer tonight. Anniversaries like this are rare in Church Communities that are formed from the gathering of just a few. There is much to appreciate and to celebrate tonight.
First and foremost, this is a celebration of you….
your deep and profound love of God and your willingness to engage with the struggle of living the Gospel out loud each and every day of our lives.
As you know, that is not always an easy task and I stand with you tonight to simply say thank you for giving the Gospel voice in the circles of influence in your lives.
If you were struck tonight by the seeming oddness of the first reading,
then you, I believe are on very solid ground!
It should seem odd….it is a bit like opening up the story of any great classic novel and reading a paragraph and expecting everyone to understand.
As Catholics…we have been profoundly impacted by our past…..
we were not encouraged to read the Sacred Scriptures, or to delve into their meanings.
If you walk out of here tonight and remember nothing else, please remember this…..
Reading, studying and wrestling with Sacred Scripture is a really, really good thing to do.
Job is a great book, if you are struggling with pain, suffering and discontent.
And this little pericope of Job that we just heard is near the end. Job is 42 chapters long…this comes from the beginning of Chapter 38. It is God speaking to Job.
God is reminding Job, that no matter what, there is no place where, no situation in and no struggle in which God is not intimately present.
We might not see it,
We might not understand it.
We might struggle to see how God is in it!
But God is reminding Job and us….
make no mistake….God is here!
I encourage you to read it…it’s a great story, of hope, struggle, pain, suffering and restoration.
There is no place, no situation, no experience in which God is not present…Amen!
Now a question:
How many of you have seen, been to, or maybe even been on Lake Mille Lacs?
How many of you know how big the Sea of Galilee is?
Do you realize that the Sea of Galilee is a little less than half of the size of Lake Mille Lacs?
Half…..not what most of us think about when we hear these stories of our Scriptures….
Do you know you lose site of land at a distance with 20/20 vision of about 12 nautical miles?
The Sea of Galilee at it longest point from north to south is 13 miles….and its widest point is about 7 miles.
This Gospel story is about a distance between shores of about 5 miles….they could see land!
But fear is a powerful force in our lives as it was in the lives of the disciples.
Fear can keep us blind doesn’t it?
It can obscure our vision
and can block us from rational thought.
If there is one overarching theme of the Gospel of Mark it would be this…..there is nothing more powerful than God, manifested in Christ.
Fear can grip us to the core of our being and when it does it can stop us dead in our tracks.
If this Gospel does anything for us, or has any message for us tonight I believe it might be precisely this:
Stop…Stop…what are we so afraid of?
I have been amazed at the number of times that my Spiritual Directors and close friends have encouraged me to stop living in my own fears.
It is a battle, to not allow fear to dominate our lives.
Even listening to the news, almost every time there is a concern about human rights, or asylum or nuclear weapons, almost every time, if we listen deeply we will discover, the argument is about fear.
Fear that there is not enough….Fear that someone may speak in a language we don’t understand….Fear that we might have to look at something differently than we have been doing.
Jesus, stood up in the boat and said…..STOP….and asks us, just as he did the disciples…..why are we so afraid?
My friend Joel Osteen says it often……we need to stop telling God about our Mountains and we need to begin to tell our Mountains about our God!
First and foremost my friends, faith is about a relationship with God.
Focus on that, and fear will soon find itself running away.
Often it is a matter of perspective.
Every day, I walk, talk, shake hands with, cry with, celebrate with and laugh with murderers, rapists and thieves. People who have committed horrendous, unspeakable deeds, things which would cause most of us to turn around and run. And some days I want to run…….
but when, I walk, talk, shake hands with, cry with, celebrate with Joe, and Tom, and Fred, and Sam, and Muhamad, and Joshua….and I see them as human beings who struggled and continue to struggle with what it means to be human and live
then my fear begins to dissipate and I see they are really a brother who is engaged in the struggle just as am I.
This week, and in the coming months, I really am going to encourage each of us to pay attention to Fear.
When do we find it showing up in our lives?
And when it does,…stop… ask ourselves the question…what is this…
why is this and
what will it take for me to change my perspective?
Be Not Afraid…..
it is the most often repeated phrase in Sacred Scripture….over 367 times…
I would venture to say….
I would venture to say, that God is trying to tell us something….
Maybe you think so too?