Gospel Reflections by Father Gerry Pierse, C.Ss.R.

B - 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 4:35-41

Yes! We Matter to God

According to one version of the Exodus story, when Moses and the Israelites were crossing the Red Sea the whole court of heaven was at a standstill, every angel was holding it's breath, looking over the parapets of heaven as the forces of Pharaoh pursued the escaping Israelites. When the seas closed in drowning the pursuing Egyptians there was a deafening applause in the heavenly chambers. Then someone took a look at God the Father. He was crying. When asked how he could be sad he answered, "the Egyptians were also my children!"

In today's Gospel we see the disciples trying to escape from the crowds. Jesus is tired and asleep on a cushion at the stern of the boat. But the fact that the master is aboard does not prevent them from hitting one of those flash storms that happen frequently on the sea of Galilee. The apostles try to cope on their own but eventually they have to wake up Jesus: "Does it not matter to you that we are going to drown?" He showed that they did matter to him and he calmed the storm.

This is one of the Gospel stories where it is most difficult to distinguish between what is an account of an actual happening and what is just an allegory, a story in which each part has a symbolic meaning. The story is probably a combination of both elements.

Like the disciple we can feel that we need a break because we have been working so hard - especially if we have been working in the Lord's own vineyard. If a storm comes we resent it; did we not deserve the break? We try to cope using our own resources. But soon we panic and realize that we need to wake up the Lord that we have allowed to sleep within us. When we return to him in trusting prayer he wakes up within us and restores peace to our hearts and to our surroundings.

It is by constant trusting prayer that we keep in touch with Jesus who is ever in our hearts whether we sleep or are awake. He is there with a love that we cannot take away and that knows no barriers of sex, race or religion. The silent presence to that presence is perhaps the most uniting activity that this world knows.

Yet it is difficult at times to believe that God really cares, when we see a world war in which 55 million people were killed and millions of Jews insanely executed. When we see so much violence and destruction in today's Europe and in places all over the globe we can wonder if God cares. Does He really say, "they were also my children"?

Global tragedy is hard to make sense of. However, every global or personal tragedy has surfaced thousands of individual cases of awakening through tragedy.

Monte did not feel he had much to thank God for. At four he got polio which left him with a deformed leg. Because of this he usually rode a bicycle even into his classroom or into a store where he was making a purchase. By dint of determination he was able to get a commerce degree, get a job in a government office and get married. He was a very self sufficient man. He shared little about his life with his co-workers and neighbors and felt no gratitude of any kind towards God. Then one day it was discovered that the retinas in both of his eyes were becoming detached. He found himself suddenly facing blind ness and total immobility. He was beginning to get bitter until he noticed what was happening around him. His co-workers caroled at Christmas and his neighbors contributed generously to raise funds for his hospitalization. A specialist surgeon donated his services.

Monte told me afterward that he never felt so loved and cared for as he was during that time. Then too he became overpowered by a sense of God's loving care experienced from all of these unexpected sources. It was indeed a storm but it was a storm which woke up Jesus for him and led him to know that we do matter to God.

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Taken from Sundays into Silence - A Pathway to Life. Copyright © 1998 by Claretian Publications

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