12th S. 2021: Wild Ride

Today’s homily is for the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 20, 2021, and the readings can be found by clicking here

A very happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there reading this blog! What a wonderful gift and responsibility. 

How old do you think a child should be before taking him or her on the Giant Dipper roller coaster, at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk? My wife’s family has gone to Santa Cruz for a weekend trip every year since before she was born, and the tradition continues to the very day. We are looking forward to the trip next month. I went first as a boyfriend, then as a husband, and now as a father. It’s a wonderful trip, and we enjoy the beach, the games, the rides, and being with one another…oh, and Pizza My Heart. My sons enjoyed the pizza, and the beach, and the games…but at what age do they get to enjoy the rides…not the kiddie rides, but the roller coaster? I remember when Luke was just tall enough to go on the Giant Dipper, California’s oldest roller coaster. 2024 marks its 100th anniversary!

As we made our ascent, Luke was screaming, “We’re gonna die! We’re gonna die!” He was hysterical, but it made my wife and I laugh out loud. He was so afraid, but we were perfectly calm. We’d been on it a hundred times. We knew the track. We knew the end. We were not afraid. In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ disciples were filled with fear! They were terrified! And while they were stressed out and afraid, our Lord was at the stern of the boat sleeping soundly. Waves were crashing, the disciples were afraid, and Jesus was sleeping like a baby. Why? 

As the 1st reading taught us, God made the land, and made the sea. He had not only been on it a hundred times, he was its very creator! The Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said, “Who shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb; when I set limits for it and fastened the bar of its door, and said: Thus far shall you come but no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stilled!” 

God made the sea, and the wind, and even the storm. “We’re in the midst of a storm?” Jesus says, “You think I’m worried? Please.” Jesus isn’t worried because he knows how it goes. He knows the ride. He’s like my wife and I on the Big Dipper! We weren’t worried. But so many times in our life we are like the disciples, and like my son, Luke, on the Big Dipper. We get stressed out. We’re on a wild ride. We see only what is right in front of our face and we are terrified. But our Lord is calm in the midst of our storm, waiting only for us to call upon us–even with little faith. 

I think the important lesson for us in today’s Gospel is to first recognize that with or without Jesus, we should expect storms in our life. Some of us are going through them even now–a bad health report, the death of a loved one, loss of a job, difficulties with our family, or a number of other storms that come up in this life. The Lord is with us, but just because we think it’s a huge issue, does not necessarily mean it is! In fact, I can’t count the number of times I thought it was the end of the world, but it wasn’t…not yet.

All the same, when we find ourselves in a storm, like the disciples, we should go to our Lord, wake him up and scream in his face! That’s called prayer–specifically it’s called lament. Let Him know how we feel. Let him know we’re afraid. And ask him how in the world he could be asleep when we are going through so much!! 

He will probably chastise us for our lack of faith, that’s true, but he will also calm the storm. Going to our Lord will always bring us to a place of greater peace. Being a person of prayer who leans on and cries out to the Lord will not only strengthen our relationship with Him, but also open our eyes to see how He works in our life and in the world. Jesus cares about our struggles, our pain, and our suffering, but he also knows that it’s just a storm, and if we cling to him, we will spend eternity with him forever, no matter where the ride takes us. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for the Lord is at my side.

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