Mk 4.35-41                Job 38.1,8-11            2Cor 5.14-17

The first century world view was somewhat different from the way we perceive the world around us today, with a far deeper scientific understanding of nature and associated phenomena, such as storms, cyclones, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and the like.

Weather patterns are subject to all sorts of natural and human-made influences, with today’s illustration of stormy or tempestuous conditions on the Sea of Galilee being calmed at the word of Jesus, out there with his disciples, as they tried to cross to the other side of the lake.

The Old Testament belief, which we hear about in the Book of Job today, is that God had all power over the forces of nature, such that if the people turned to him in faith, disaster could be averted by divine intervention, usually if they turned to him, pleading for relief.  We now know it is not as simple as that, and that natural events will take their course, no matter whatever about hopes and prayers for relief.

The ancient Greek and Roman gods were given names according to various inexplicable natural events, where thunder and lightning were attributed to certain gods in the heavens, getting upset with each other, or with the humans down below, and the Sun seen as a primary God (at least for the Egyptians!), fundamentally important, which common sense tells us that it is, for heat and light!  In fact, with all the talk about nuclear power and associated uncertainties, it has been pointed out that the Sun is Earth’s primary source of nuclear energy!

When I was doing chemistry at Monash University in the mid-70’s, there was much talk about the potential of solar energy being researched for future provision of power for our needs, as technology developed, Australia being a naturally favourable place, given its vast space, and readily available sunshine. It seems to me that the magnates behind the petrochemical industry have done their best to have kept this at bay, although now we are far more aware of the need for such energy alternatives.

From the greenhouse effect, to global warming to climate change, while the descriptions have varied, the scientific research has shown that the impact of human intervention has significantly affected the atmosphere and so ensuing climatic effects.  It does seem that there are increasingly more extreme weather events these days, as a direct result, whatever the denialists wish to think!  Educated as a scientist, I go with the science.

To my mind, while you may think it a long stretch, today’s Gospel is a reminder of the capriciousness and unpredictability of nature, and so our need as humans affected by it, to make provision for dealing with the effects and preparing for the possibilities of what is to come, so that’s our responsibility to take what action we can to lessen and avoid the devastating effects of natural disasters.

It’s quite likely here that the disciples couldn’t swim, even though some were fishermen. There was no ‘Learn to Swim’ in those days, and it doesn’t come all that naturally, except for dogs, frogs, whales and fish, perhaps! So their fear was very real!

Meanwhile, Jesus is called here to deal with the sources of natural energy, with wind and waves causing havoc and fear.  Back to beginnings in Genesis, there is the void of darkness over the waters, and chaos reigning, until God’s creative Spirit draws forth light and life, as order evolves from the chaos. Here, we have Jesus exercising his God-given power to bring calm and peace to his frightened friends, and so he does, as they express wonder and relief.  And here we have sources of energy which are all around us, with wind and waves having power to be harnessed for our own needs, where there’s a will to apply the knowledge.

Mark is keen to demonstrate the source of Jesus’ influence over his environment, and so show them the way to convey his calming presence to others, and capacity to overpower evil and to forgive sin as a consequence as well.

And this week there was the lull before the storm metaphorically, when I had a quiet Wednesday, but ending up with 2 more impending funerals in the late afternoon. Then  on Thursday came the storm, with St Columba’s Feast Day Mass for over 1,000 students and staff, then anointing Mass here for over 100, followed by the funeral celebration of life for 46 year old father of 2 young children, Toby Bateman, but ending the day with a happy 98th birthday celebration of one of our  oldest parishioners, the irrepressible smiling and humorous Denis O’Sullivan, who got 2 parties that day!!

Finally, I visited our year 5 classes here at St Therese’s on Friday morning, to discover they were researching role models for social justice, with the usual suspects in there of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Mary MacKillop, even Princes Diana, for her engagement with AIDS victims and supporting the banning of landmines, Eddie Betts, for confronting racism in AFL),  and I was happy to add Sion Sister Pat Fox, whom I mentioned last week with her missionary service of  28 years on the Philippines, upsetting the status quo of the rich and powerful with her standing up for the poor and oppressed, such that they kicked her out and won’t let her back in.

We all need real life role models for inspiration in following Jesus, and living the Gospel in our own lives, and not necessarily canonised saints, encouraging us to make differences in our own small ways.  A  majority of the leaders they had selected had clear and direct connection with the message of Jesus, which I find heartening to see.  And it’s great to see our students seeing the practical application of the Gospel message, to inspire them as they grow and learn the ways of faith, life and action, as we all face up to the storms and waves of the ups and downs of our lives, and work out how to convert that energy to useful purposes.  Now for 6 more Baptisms this weekend, as they keep coming, with Jack, Talia, Benjamin, Mia and would you believe 2 Ezras!!??


john hannon                                                                 23rd  June 2024

And here’s an apt reflective prayer by pastor John Laar, titled “Loving Through the Storm” in his book “Sacredise”, which means “to make sacred”:

“The worst storms, Jesus, are the ones caused by our fear, when we grow afraid of losing our power, or we grow suspicious of the power of others, when we refuse to acknowledge your mysterious authority.

Yet, it’s in the storm that we find our capacity to love, in releasing our weak claim to power and opening to your reign, we discover a new way of seeing ourselves

– as called and useful and beloved

– and the other whoever they may be

– as dignified and precious and beloved.

Here in the storm, Jesus, we need you, and we need each other, and the love you give us to share, leads us through sacrifice and self-giving to peace and calm, if only we will loose our hold on fear.  Amen.”

View All