12th Sunday in O. T. Homily
Whenever we talk about “storms of life” – trials and tribulations of all sort – each of us has a story to tell. Our storms may be external or internal: conflicts in the family, broken relationships, financial crisis, failure in our job or profession, crisis in married life, emotional disturbance, moral disorder through sin, and doubts in our faith. But in whatever storm that we may be experiencing, our readings today remind us that Jesus is present in our boat. He may appear to be asleep, seemingly insensitive to our problems, but He is there, present, and just waiting to be awakened. Let us not hesitate to ask for His help and to tell Him: “Lord, don’t you care that we are drowning?”
Of course, the Lord cares for us! No doubt about that. If He didn’t care for us, would He come down from heaven and become man like us to save us from sin and reconcile us with the Father? Would He give up His life and allow Himself to be nailed to the cross and die if He did not really care for us? What more proof do you require to convince you of God’s love for you?
The storms of life that you are experiencing can be a proof of God’s love. How is that possible? If we try to reflect on the liturgical readings today, we may discover three (3) consoling truths: (1) Storms remind us of God’s presence; (2) Through our storms in life, we discover our limitations and our need for God; and (3) Storms bring out the best in us.
Storms remind us of God’s presence. Let us look at the experience of Job in our First Reading. Job was a good and God-fearing man. But God allowed that he undergo trials: his whole family died of a catastrophe; his possessions were gone; and he was afflicted with painful skin disease. When finally Job complained to God, “God answered Job out of the storm”. It is as if telling us that amidst the storms of life, God is present and is speaking to us.
Therefore, it is not true that whenever we encounter storms in life, God has left us. On the contrary, God is speaking to us out of the storms that we experience. What is God telling you in that family conflict? Or in that broken relationship? Or in that financial crisis? Or even in that committing the same sin again and again? God was telling Job out of the storm: “Hey, I’m just here. I can calm your storm: “Quiet! Be still!” Tell Jesus to calm the storm within you: your emotional disturbance, your wavering faith, your flickering hope. Ask Jesus to quiet the strong winds outside of you. Do not be afraid. In the midst of your trials, God assures you of His presence. God is speaking to you.
Secondly, through our storms of life, we discover our limitations and our need for God. Perhaps, the Lord allows that storm to come. In the Gospel, while strong winds tossed the boat, “Jesus was asleep” – an image suggesting that sometimes God allows us to undergo trials. Why would God do that? In order for us to discover our need for Him. Oftentimes, we feel self-sufficient and complacent. We think that we don’t need God anymore. God is aware of our tendencies to forget Him whenever everything runs so smoothly. So, from time to time, He sends us storms – trials which are not beyond our strength to confront.
Therefore, it is not true that whenever we encounter storms in life, God loves us less. On the contrary, God is telling us through these trials how much He loves us that He cannot afford to lose us. Why will you pray more to God only when you are in crisis? Pray more when everything in life is okay because when life is smooth sailing, you run the risk of feeling self-sufficient. You tend to be mediocre. God cannot allow that to happen. So He tries to disturb the waters.
In the words of St. Paul, in the Second Reading: “The love of Christ impels us”. Christ’s love cannot afford to let us be drowned by self-sufficiency, complacency and mediocrity. To save us from these tendencies, our Lord sends us storms of life. Whenever we have trials, let us wake up from our slumber. Let us acknowledge our own limitations and our need for God’s help.
Lastly, storms bring out the best in us. The movie San Andreas can be a very concrete illustration of my point. A family is experiencing a storm of life: divorce and separation, which is very common today. A catastrophe made them decide to stick together. The same catastrophe made heroes out of some of the characters of the movie. If God has reasons for sending us trials, this could be one of those: to bring out the best in us.
Therefore, it is not true that trials weaken us. On the contrary, they make us stronger. Do not disdain your trials and tribulations. Welcome them as opportunities to grow spiritually. St. Augustine said: “Trials and tribulations offer us a chance to make reparation for our past faults and sins. On such occasions the Lord comes to us like a physician to heal the wounds left by our sins. Tribulation is the divine medicine.” And St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina also commented: “The longer the trial to which God subjects you, the greater the goodness in comforting you during the time of trial and in the exaltation after the combat.” The Second Reading tells us that “the one who is in Christ is a new creature”. As Christians, our storms in life can make us “a new creation”.
My dear friends, whenever storms come into your life, do not be afraid. Know that Jesus is present and is speaking to you “out of the storm”. Let your storms help you discover your need for God. Then, come to Him just like the disciples did and tell Him: “Master, do you not care that I am drowning?” Surely, deep within you, you will hear Him saying to you: “Do not be afraid. Have faith”; and to the storm, “Quiet! Be still!” And you will have peace of mind and heart.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary accompany us as we brave our storms of life. Amen.