TWELFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

What Does God Oversee?

First Reading ( Job 38:1,8-11 ): All creatures reflect God's wisdom
Second Reading (2 Cor 5:14-17 ) : Becoming a new person in Christ
Gospel ( Mk 4:35-41 ) : The storm on the sea
Chinese Classics:
- “Wind or rain, overcast or bright, are external circumstances, Deep in my heart there is only the dazzling sun and the colourful sky.”
- “A perfect man has no dreams.”
- “Live in worries, die in contentment.”

They woke him up and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?" And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" ( Mk 4:38-41 )

In the fourth and fifth chapters of Mark's Gospel, we find three miracles that Jesus performed. Jesus used his supreme power to perform them at a time when people felt helpless or hopeless. He did it to help people in need.

The first miracle was the calming of the storm as we read in today's Gospel. The second was exorcising the demoniac in the country of the Gerasenes, and the third was the cure of the woman with a hemorrhage and raising the daughter of Jairus to life. All of these miracles clearly reveal that Jesus is Lord of the universe and of all life. His power surpasses the devil's rampage.

The background of the story of the calming of the storm is simple. The whole day's preaching of the Gospel left Jesus weary and he suggested to his disciples they cross over to the opposite bank of the lake. On the way a heavy storm blew up, a common phenomenon on the Sea of Galilee. But Jesus slept so soundly that the noise of the wind and waves did not seem to affect him at all. For those who live innocent lives, who are happy, peaceful and without worry, they really can reach this state, so that “Wind or rain, overcast or bright, are external circumstances, Deep in my heart there is only the dazzling sun and the colourful sky.” Jesus was such a person.

In Jesus' heart there was only his heavenly Father and his Father's will. Each day he fulfilled his Father's will to perfection, doing his ‘homework’ so to speak. External circumstances, be it the sky falling, did not disturb or upset him. This is probably what Chuang Tse meant by “A perfect man has no dreams.” It was why Jesus could sleep so peacefully, sweeter than a baby resting in its mother's bosom.

The disciples, on the other hand, were very frightened; their struggle against the storm had been in vain and they were in danger. Then they thought of Jesus, who was the most unique person they had ever met. They respected everything about him: his words, his mannerisms, his voice and smile, how he treated others. Now that their lives were at risk they naturally thought of him.

Sometimes we learn to persevere only in times of danger, we think of God only when disaster looms. We can say then that disaster can be God's blessing in disguise. Life is like Mencius said, “Live in worries, die in contentment.” That is, in a time of worry, we can live a fuller life, be more positive and enterprising. In a time of contentment, we lack challenges and gradually can diminish and die. Times of disaster can be a source of faith, an opportunity to turn to God and rely on God entirely. It may be that it is only at times of difficulty that we think of God, when we are more aware of our own inability and helplessness, that the image of the all-powerful God returns to us. But is it true that our God really cares about everything?

The Hong Kong Diocesan Priests' Association once invited a physicist to talk to the priests about the relation between science and religion. He pointed out that it is not difficult for scientists to believe in the existence of God, because when they view the marvels of the universe, it is difficult not to think of an all-wise God. He mentioned “4 universal constants” whose mystery humans cannot fathom. A tiny difference in any of these constants would lead to a world and life so different that we would not recognize it. He continued to say, “We cannot believe that this is just coincidence. If it isn’t coincidence, then there must be a designer with unlimited wisdom – God. It was God who designed the universe with its laws of operation, including those 4 universal constants.”

What scientists might question is does a Creator of such limitless might and power also care for ordinary daily trivial matters? In the presence of such almighty grandeur, what are human beings? Why would God care for us? And why should we deserve such care? The Earth is only a very small planet in the Solar system which is just another small part of a vast Galaxy. An individual human being is less than speck of dust.

But God really does care for us. Psalm 139 (v. 1-5) says, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up.You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.” ( Ps 139:1-5 )

Before a God who cares for us so much, our Father to whom nothing is too trivial, what else can we do other than render God praise and thanks!

(1) 風雨晦明身外事,心中只有艷陽天。 至人無夢。
(2)生於憂患,死於安樂。

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