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Sunday Scripture: In Christ we are a new creation

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

By Sister Betty Jane Lillie, S.C.

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Job 38: 1, 8-11; Psalm 107: 23-26, 28-31; 2 Corinthians 5:14-17; Mark 4: 35-41

It may strike us as being a bit of subtle humor that liturgical readings in Ordinary Time should be formed around a theme of a squall. But in the end we may see it as more ordinary than we thought at first.

In the Gospel reading Jesus and some of the disciples were caught in a squall on the Lake of Galilee. Such a situation is not unusual in that area.  Some versions of the Bible present the disciples’ outcry as, “Lord save us; we are perishing.” That was not an exaggeration! But in the face of that we need to keep the person of Jesus foremost in our attention. Jesus’ response was twofold. To the squall He said, “Quiet! Be still!” To the disciples He said, “Why are you terrified?  Do you not yet have faith?” 

What a surprise!  It seemed to them to be perfectly reasonable to fear for their lives! To Jesus it was all very simple: they did not yet have faith! For them it was hard to know how to act in such a situation. “Who is this whom even wind and sea obey?” The issue here is about the identity of Jesus. 

From this reading we can reflect back to the first reading from the Book of Job. The Lord addressed Job out of a storm — sometimes translated whirlwind. (RSV).  That is often the setting for a theophany, which is a literary form that reveals a divine appearance. Our passage forms part of one of God’s responses to Job. The whole speech is a background for the Lord’s self-revelation in a sharp contrast between who Job thinks He is, and who God knows who He himself is. It ends in a statement of very sharp irony.  If Job thought he had all the answers to the wonders God worked in creation, then he surely must have been around when God created the world! That would make the number of Job’s days very great (Job 38:21). The response of God was a sarcastic jibe to a man who in his bewilderment lost the sense of what he was talking about! (Job 38:2) 

Again the interchange points to the identity of God. Here also God is in charge. Here also there is a call to faith. Job needs to recall who God is, as well as whom he himself is in God’s presence. Finally Job assumed a humble stance before God and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer (Job 42).  

Grasping the concept of who the Lord is requires the grace of God. The idea of trusting in God’s care for us and putting difficulties in His hands sometimes seems unreasonable. After all, we are in charge, aren’t we? Or are we? 

In our second reading Paul gives us a Christian context for reflecting on our relationship with Christ. It is the love of Christ that drives/impels us.  Whoever is in Christ is a new creation. New things have come. We no longer live for ourselves but for Him who died for us and was raised (2 Corinthians 5: 14-17).  

The psalmist wraps it up for us. Those who see the wondrous works of the Lord and cry to the Lord in their trouble are glad when quiet returns and thank the Lord for His steadfast love (Psalm 107).

Sister Betty Jane is a member of the faculty at the Athenaeum of Ohio.

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