Saturday, June 20, 2015

Storms of Life

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.

1 comment:

David Roemer said...

#Reasons to Believe in Jesus

Reasons to believe Jesus is alive in a new life with God can be found in quotes from two prominent atheists and a biology textbook.
> Thus the passion of man is the reverse of that of Christ, for man loses himself as man in order that God may be born. But the idea of God is contradictory and we lose ourselves in vain. Man is a useless passion. (Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, New York: Washington Square Press, p. 784)

> Among the traditional candidates for comprehensive understanding of the relation of mind to the physical world, I believe the weight of evidence favors some from of neutral monism over the traditional alternatives of materialism, idealism, and dualism. (Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, location 69 of 1831)

> And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. To most biologists, the brain and the mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we’ll understand such mindful functions as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind, finding Descartes’ concept of a mind-body duality more attractive. (Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th edition, p. 776 )

Sartre speaks of the "passion of man," not the passion of Christians. He is acknowledging that all religions east and west believe there is a transcendental reality and that perfect fulfillment comes from being united with this reality after we die. He then defines this passion with a reference to Christian doctrine which means he is acknowledging the historical reasons for believing in Jesus. He does not deny God exists. He is only saying the concept of God is contradictory. He then admits that since life ends in the grave, it has no meaning.

From the title of the book, you can see that Nagel understands that humans are embodied sprits and that the humans soul is spiritual. He says, however, that dualism and idealism are "traditional" alternatives to materialism. Dualism and idealism are just bright ideas from Descartes and Berkeley. The traditional alternative to materialism is monism. According to Thomas Aquinas unity is the transcendental property of being. Campbell does not even grasp the concept of monism. The only theories he grasps are dualism and materialism.

If all atheists were like Sartre, it would be an obstacle to faith. An important reason to believe in Jesus is that practically all atheists are like Nagel and Campbell, not like Sartre.

by David Roemer

"Sacerdotes, 'consagrados en la Verdad'"

Estar inmersos en la Verdad, en Cristo, de este proceso forma parte
la oración, en la que nos ejercitamos en la amistad con Él y aprendemos a
conocerle: su forma de ser, de pensar, de actuar. Rezar es un caminar en
comunión personal con Cristo, exponiendo ante Él nuestra vida cotidiana,
nuestros logros y nuestros fracasos, nuestras fatigas y nuestras alegrías -es un
simple presentarnos a nosotros mismos ante Él. Pero para que esto no se
convierta en un autocontemplarse, es importante que aprendamos continuamente a
rezar rezando con la Iglesia.