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The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Twelfth Sunday in the Ordinary Time, Cycle B, 23 June 2024
Job 38:1, 8-11 ><}}}}*> 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 ><}}}}*> Mark 4:35-41
Photo by author, San Juan, La Union, 25 July 2023.

From examples of trees in the forest and sowing of seeds in the fields last week, our readings this Sunday situate us at the middle of the sea with a raging storm to remind us of God’s immense power and most of all, love and care for us in Jesus Christ. Right away we get that hint from our short first reading:

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 made the clouds its garments and thick darkness its swaddling hands? 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!” (Job 38:1, 8-11).

Photo by author, San Juan, La Union, 25 July 2023.

Nothing so struck humans since time immemorial as the sea that is so immense, seemingly without limits. It has been so loved yet dreaded with many literatures around the world teeming with all kinds of stories about the sea’s many mysteries that still baffle us in this age of computers and satellites. Experts say that big ships and jumbo jets are so minuscule compared with any area of the sea where they could still get lost like the missing Malaysian Airlines not too long ago.

That is the imagery of the sea, similar with life itself that is lovely to behold yet frightening with many mysteries and dangers. Life like the sea must be crossed and lived out to experience its boundless beauty, joys, and gifts waiting to be discovered by those willing to have faith in Jesus who assures us today that He had come to accompany us in crossing this great sea of life with His love and power.

A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm (Mk.4:37-39).

Photo by author, Anvaya Cove in Morong, Bataan, 15 April 2024.

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

Most likely we have also asked God the same question especially when everything seems to be so wrong in our lives with God seemed to be so far from us, not caring at all. That was the situation of the fictional character Job we have in the first reading. Towards the end of the book, God assured Job that as the Creator of this universe, He is in control of everything in this life. This became more real in the coming of Jesus, the Son of God, our Emmanuel or “God-is-with-us” that Mark showed in his story of Christ’s calming of the sea.

See Mark’s details as so weird and exaggerated to show us that even in the worst scenarios in life, God is present in Jesus Christ. Remember that Mark wrote his gospel account to inspire and strengthen the faith of early Christians persecuted and felt exactly like the disciples in the boat caught in a violent squall with nowhere to go except to Jesus soundly asleep in the stern on a cushion.

Both the incident at the sea and the persecution of early Christians must be so terrifying, reminding us of the times we felt the same way too in many instances in our lives like when the whole world stood still during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo by author, Lake of Galilee, the Holy Land, May 2017.

This was the same gospel scene Pope Francis used in his reflections at the special Urbi et Orbi benediction in March 2020 at the start of COVID-19. That surreal scene of an empty St. Peter Square with the Pope alone limping his way to the altar was so much like this scene in the gospel. How sad that four years after crossing modern history’s stormiest sea, many have forgotten while others refuse to recognize that it was Jesus who pacified the virus that caused the pandemic.

Jesus reminds us today that He is always in the boat, silently sailing with us in this stormy sea of life. Do not expect Him to be like most stage mothers or protective parents who keep on interfering in the lives of their children especially when there are difficulties.

During a vacation in Canada more than a decade ago, I noticed the big difference between Filipino and Canadian parents when relatives brought me to experience “apple picking”. While waiting at the entrance, I observed how Canadian parents simply looked at their children playing, never intervening except when kids were hurt and started to cry. So amazing at how the parents would just smile and carry their children to comfort them, so unlike Filipino parents who acted like Secret Service agents watching, reprimanding every move of their children. Worst was when children got hurt and cried as parents scolded them! – which continues even after their children have all grown up with families of their own. Maybe we never progressed as a nation because so many of us have never really matured as individuals partly due to our “stage parents”.

Photo by author, Lake of Galilee, May 2019.

Going back to the boat caught in a violent squall in the middle of the Lake of Galillee, see the dramatic contrast of Jesus soundly asleep in the stern while His disciples were deep in anguish and fears. Like those Canadian parents I have observed, Jesus prefers to be silent during storms in life than to interfere so that we would grow and mature in our faith and prayers, becoming stronger inside and out.

Instead of frantically shouting and scrambling on what to do like the disciples in the boat when trials come our way, let us go inside to Jesus in the stern, no need to wake Him up nor speak. Simply stay, be still and be one with Him in prayers, trusting Him more than anyone.

That’s how we are transformed into better persons by letting Jesus live inside our hearts, the stern of our boat.

To let Jesus live in our hearts is to live in love of Christ despite the many storms and darkness we encounter like St. Paul who implored us in the second reading, “Brothers and sisters: The love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all; therefore, all have died (2Cor.5;14).

Photo by Dra. Mylene A. Santos, MD in Infanta, Quezon, 2023.

St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians is his most personal letter where he poured his heart out in response to the nasty talks hurled against him. Throughout this letter, we find St. Paul narrating all the trials and sufferings he endured in following Jesus that led him to experience Christ’s love in the most personal way that gave him the conviction to live in Christ, to love Christ. Hence, his call every Paulinian knows by heart, Caritas Christi urget nos.

Last Sunday, Mark portrayed God’s presence in Jesus Christ among us like the seed sown in the field that grows without us knowing how, always present among us. Today, Mark portrayed Jesus present among us in exaggerated manner like sleeping in the stern while the boat filled with many leaks crosses this sea of life in a violent storm. How interesting that in crossing the sea – on the Cross itself – Jesus reconciled us with God, with others and with our very selves so that we may pass over and cross to the other side of life and love in Christ. Let us pray:

Lord Jesus Christ,
cast away our fears 
in this sea of life we cross
filled with darkness and storms;
many times, our boat is filled with
many leaks of our sins
but You chose to stay with us,
sleeping soundly in the stern;
teach us to be silent,
to trust You more
when the going gets rough
and tough like during an exam:
You are our Teacher,
You know all the answers,
You are silent because 
You want us to learn,
You want us to pass.
Amen.
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Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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