Homily for the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.
When we say the word, “we,” who do we mean by that? Who do we include in our “we”? The first group of people we include in our “we” are our family members: immediate and then extended. The next group we include are our friends and close acquaintances. We then include our classmates, coworkers, and fellow parishioners. Finally, we include our neighbors and the fellow citizens of our communities, states, nation, and world. We include lots of people in our “we,” though the size of the group varies depending on the context.
When the disciples wake Jesus up in our gospel today, they say to Him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” When they said the word, “we,” who did they mean by that? Who did the disciples include in their “we”? While Jesus was having a nap at the back of the boat, sound asleep on his cushion, the disciples were probably in full panic mode. We can imagine them trying to bail out the boat and keep it afloat as wave after wave came crashing over the sides. We can imagine them holding on for dear life as they were being tossed and turned by sheets of rain and mighty gusts of wind. We can imagine them peering off into stormy darkness, looking desperately for some sign of shore and safe harbor.
There could hardly be a greater contrast between Jesus and the disciples in this scene. Given that, it’s hard to imagine the disciples including Jesus in their “we.” “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing? Because you clearly aren’t perishing. We clearly are, but clearly are not. You’re just having a nap. You don’t seem to be bothered by this at all. You don’t even seem to care if we die.” The disciples didn’t include Jesus in their “we.” And that was their problem. If they had included Jesus in their “we,” they would have known there was nothing to be afraid of. “We are not perishing, because you are with us, and we are with you, and you are part of our we.”
When we are going through storms in our life, do we include Jesus in our “we”? I don’t know about you, but like the disciples I often forget to include Jesus in my “we” in these difficult moments. When faced with a storm, I often go into full panic mode. I try to bail out my boat and keep it afloat as waves of stress and anxiety come crashing over the sides. I hold on for dear life as I am tossed and turned by challenges and difficulties. I peer off into the stormy darkness, looking desperately for something safe and secure to dock my boat to. And I forget that Jesus was in my boat all along. I forget that Jesus is part of my “we,” and so I have nothing ultimately to be afraid of. If Jesus is part of our “we,” we have nothing to be afraid of from the storms that come up in our lives. If Jesus is part of our “we,” we will not perish. Even if Jesus seems to be asleep, even if He seems silent or uncaring, He is with us, and will not leave us to face our storms alone.
So, is Jesus part of our “we”? To make Jesus more a part of our “we,” especially when facing the storms of our lives, I’d like to suggest this simple exercise in prayer. When faced with a storm, ask Jesus this simple question: ask it with the sincerity and innocence of a child: “Jesus, are you afraid?” And Jesus will say to us, “No, child, I am not afraid.” “Then I will not be afraid either,” we can tell Jesus in reply. If Jesus is not afraid, then we need not be afraid either. This is what it means to have faith. This is what it means to have Jesus as part of our “we.” Amen.