Our scriptures sure have a lot of references to nature.
Last week it was the mustard seed,
and this week it’s the storm on the lake.
Mark’s Gospel calls it the Sea of Galilee, but it’s not a sea.
In Israel it’s known as Lake Gennesaret,
and sometimes it’s referred to as Lake Tiberius.
It’s a 64-square-mile lake, smaller than the city of Toledo.
Not only isn’t the Sea of Galilee a big sea,
but scripture scholars pretty much agree
that this passage in Mark’s gospel
does not record words that Jesus actually spoke.
And they also agree that this event is not historical.
Marcus Borg’s comment is perfect for this passage;
as he put it, “The Bible is true,
and some of it actually happened.”
And what really happened
was that Jesus was so centered in God
that he brought peace through his words and actions.
Mark relates, in the story of the storm of the lake,
the way Jesus’ followers remembered what he was like:
he was the calm in the midst of turmoil.
We all get caught in storms,
sometimes storms of nature like the flood of July 4, 1969.
Or one of the 1,021 tornados that hit Ohio over the last 60 years,
like the April 4, 1974 tornado that leveled Xenia,
or the June 5, 2010 tornado that destroyed Lake High School.
Sometimes the storms we get caught in are man-made.
Last Tuesday afternoon two of my neighbors
shattered the peace of my gardening with a loud street fight.
Wednesday evening nine Charlestown Christians
were gunned down during their bible study.
Thursday the climate deniers ganged up on Pope Francis,
recognizing the negative impact
that his encyclical will have
on their profit from greed and consumerism.
The Blade reported that 30,000 of our Toledo children
go hungry every day.
We struggle to keep our head above water with our finances.
We bear the onslaught of a family member’s illness,
the emotional devastation of a spouse’s wandering,
the desolation of a friend’s suicide.
Where is God when we need help?
Is Jesus sleeping through the storms of our life?
From time to time we need to find a quiet place.
Some people practice yoga or tai chi
or one of the many forms of meditation.
Some walk their dog at daybreak.
Some go fishing.
Some sit with a book.
It’s like the desert hermits.
The stereotypical picture frames them as recluses,
cut off from society,
but they weren’t.
They led simple lives,
sometimes spending time alone in the wilderness
and sometimes joining other people in town.
They didn’t just go off alone and meditate all the time.
Sure, they prayed...
vocal prayer, meditation, all those various prayer forms.
But they also prayed with their actions,
moving in and out of the surrounding society,
listening, talking, working,
looking for, and at, God
everywhere they went.
Because they took the time to center their lives on God,
they were able to be present to others
and bring them calm in the midst of the storms.
That’s what Jesus did,
and what we—as his followers—are asked to do.
That’s not so easy these days,
but I know some people who manage to live it.
Last week Steve Miller died—
a good example of a person
who lived frugally, and thought deeply,
and moved about bringing peace through prophetic actions. And Alta
Jacko, a Catholic priest in Chicago, died—
many of you remember her from my ordination Mass—
a wonderful person whose prayer life centered her
to minister faithfully to people
and bring them peace in all kinds of stormy chaos.
Those two stand tall among the saints of our time.
I know you could tell of others who do this,
including folks in this very chapel right now.
The turmoil we live in is not new.
We heard about it in our first reading,
with God reminding Job
of the power unleashed with the creation of the universe.
We heard about it from Paul in our second reading,
with his observation that transformation takes place—
old things pass, new things come—
and it is in the centering of our life in God
that we find ourselves a new creation,
impelled by the love of Christ to reach out, as he did,
to calm the storm
and bring peace to our world.
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)
Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006