Homily – June 20, 2021

XII Sunday in Ordinary Time
Year B

In the film Forrest Gump, there is a magnificent scene that depicts Forrest and his “first mate” Lt. Dan, surviving a violent storm at sea. The shrimping boat is being tossed about by the waves as if it was a plastic toy. Lt. Dan is seated high up in the “lookout” of the boat yelling at the storm … but really he’s yelling at God. In an earlier scene Lt. Dan asks Forrest: “have you found Jesus?” Forrest’s response is humorous yet in sense reflective of his faith: “I didn’t know I was supposed to be looking for him.” As if to say, He’s with me, why would I need to look for Him? There is a sense of calm in his tone of voice and sense of security – even while he professed to be scared and did all he could to keep their boat from sinking during that storm … Forrest knew God was on his side.

The Sea of Galilee is known for storms popping up out of nowhere … and these seasoned fishermen were terrified. Yet Jesus exemplifies a perfect calm amid the storm … a miracle in and of itself – or perhaps He was just a heavy sleeper! Did they not have faith? The tone of their question suggests that perhaps they do … they have some vague idea that He can do something about this – but that He seems indifferent to them and their difficult situation.

How often is it the case that we do the exact same thing? We might yell and scream, we might ask questions like “why me” as if God isn’t paying attention – asleep while we struggle. How many of us asked similar questions during the past year – does God not care that people are dying around the globe? Where is He? How often have we felt that God was distant in our lives? All we are doing is letting the difficulty, the hardship – whatever it may be – get in the way, we put up a barrier between ourselves and God … thinking that He is not with or among us. Yet, we are missing something so very important – experiencing Him, contemplating His presence from a different angle, in a new way … It is an invitation to trust …

One of my favorite images of the Church is a boat… Christ is the captain of the ship … the other shore is the goal – eternal life … He is at the helm and we, in His boat, we know that we will be tossed about by the wind and the waves and the storms – And these storms are of all different kinds … personal difficulties, persecution of the Church, the strange teachings and philosophies of our current secular culture – yet Jesus proves to us in the gospel today that not even the most violent of storms can harm us … He proves His power even over nature … and if He can do that, ought we not trust Him in other matters?

Fear is the strategy of the enemy – of Satan … To trust Jesus, is to not let fear of anything get in the way of faith, of peace amid the storms of life … it drives Satan away from us. At the end of the storm scene, as the sun rose in the morning sky, Forrest reflected that Lt. Dan had seemingly made peace with God – through the storm.

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