12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B (June 21, 2015)

I remember, as a child, curling up, half asleep, in the back seat of ourfamily car, surrounded by my brothers and sisters, as my father drovethrough the night on some family journey. Lulled by the drone of theengine, hypnotized by the lights of passing cars, and comforted by themurmur of my parents’ conversation, I felt a profound peace, and wishedthat the journey would never end. I was serenely confident of my father’sinfallibility as a driver. No amount of rain, fog, snow or ice could raise aqualm in my mind. We were all together, and we were all safe. Neversince have I felt so secure.

One of the most anxious times of my life also involved driving. Thistime I was behind the wheel. I was an undergraduate, making thethousand-mile journey home, from college, for Christmas. I had two
passengers. One of them was Sylvia, my roommate’s fiancee. Ourcustom was to drive straight through from Indiana to Boston, completingthe trip in eighteen or twenty hours. It was the middle of the night, andthe Pennsylvania Turnpike was covered with an invisible sheet of ice. There was nothing for miles except rolling hills covered with white snow and black trees. My nerves were on edge as I struggled to keep the slowmoving car on the icy road. And every time the car slipped even slightly, Sylvia, sitting directly behind me, would scream, “Oh no, we’re going to die.” Now Sylvia’s estimate of my abilities as a driver may have been perfectly accurate, but her reaction wasn’t helpful.

In our Gospel, Jesus and his disciples are crossing the Sea of Galileein a fishing boat. A squall blows up, and the boat begins to ship water.Now with Jesus right there in the boat with them, you might expect thedisciples to face the storm with child-like confidence in their master.Surely, they were safe enough with the messiah right on board. But inthe event, the disciples react more like Sylvia. They’re terrified that theywill drown. They wake Jesus, who calms the wind and the sea, and takesthem to task for their lack of faith.

Each of us is on a journey — a life-long journey to God. In thecourse of that journey, along with times of happiness and peace, we willall experience moments of disappointment, tragedy and heartache. LikeJob, we won’t be able to explain the bad times away. Most times oursuffering just won’t make sense. The question we must ask ourselves ishow will we react? Will we give in to panic and despair, or will we retainour trust in our Lord’s loving plan for us?

The answer depends on whether we’ve invited Jesus on board forour journey through life. If he is with us, in the Eucharist, in his Word, inprayer, in our fellow Christians, then our faith, our trust, will endure.And when the storm passes, we will find life, peace and love that areeverlasting.

Fr. Charles Gordon, C.S.C.

Rev. Charles B. Gordon, C.S.C., is co-director of the Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life and American Culture at the University of Portland. He writes and records a regular blog called “Fractio Verbi.”

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