Safe from storms

By: Sister Rachel Bergschneider, OSB

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 21

Job 38:1,8-11; Psalm 107:23-24,25-26,28-29,30-31; 2 Corinthians 5:14-17; Mark 4:35-41

Sometime during our lifetime, we all have undoubtedly found ourselves in the midst of a storm. Certainly as children we experienced the fright of storms outside with the security of our parents inside. As we mature, we describe storms in ways other than weather-related. However we experience storms in our lives, the emotions that accompany them throw us off balance. We lose our moorings and don’t always know where to turn.

Some years ago, Father Godfrey Diekmann, OSB, a well-known liturgist from St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minn., told the story on himself that he was mired in a swamp while gathering watercress and had to be pulled out by a truck. He recalled later that, after 50 years in monastic life, “What bothers me is that during the entire ordeal of about 25 minutes I didn’t have a single pious thought!” (P. Henry, “The Ironic Christian’s Companion: Finding Marks of God’s Grace in the World,” 1999).

We become frozen with fear in the midst of our storms. Hopefully, as people of faith, we remember to do what the disciples in the boat did and turn to Jesus for help. Our request comes in many forms: please get me out of this situation, please improve the situation, please be with me. However we plead, we are arousing Jesus from the sleep of our lives to become active in taking care of the difficulty we encounter.

In his 2001 book, “Jesus — A Gospel,” Father Henri Nouwen tells us: “Hardly a day passes in our lives without our experience of inner and outer fears, anxieties, apprehensions, and preoccupations. These dark powers have pervaded every part of our world to such a degree that we can never fully escape them. Still it is possible not to belong to those powers, not to build our dwelling place among them, but to choose the house of love as our home.”

The words of Scripture today offer us hope. In the readings from the book of Job and the Gospel of Mark, God is the master of nature and has every concern about the fears that hold us from trust in him.

Job, who was in a storm of trials, is comforted by Yahweh’s response to his distress, “Here shall your proud waves be stilled!”

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is awakened by the disciples who are frightened by the impending storm. The boat is filling with water and they are beside themselves with fear. The two parts to the narrative are striking. Jesus first takes charge over nature to quiet the storm and then turns to the disciples in concern: “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” (Mark 4:40)

His compassion and care in their uncertainty gives them strength. They were amazed at his ability to calm the storm even though they were still uncertain of his full identity.

When fear enters our life, faith and trust are the gifts God offers us that we may dwell, as Father Nouwen says, in “the house of love as our home.” God does not promise magic — God promises to be with us in the storm. It is in this trusting love that we are able to let go of our crippling fear. In this trust we live with the security of God’s love within, keeping us safe in the midst of our storms.

A member of the Sisters of St. Benedict of St. Mary Monastery in Rock Island, Sister Rachel Bergschneider, OSB, has been pastoral associate at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Peoria Heights since 1983.

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