12th Sunday Year B - Homily 1

Homily 1 - 2006

I don’t think that Mark was all that concerned about that storm on the Lake that we just read about. He was interested in the storm that he and the members of his own small Christian community were going through as they faced misunderstanding, hostility and even persecution.

As we listen to the story today, I suspect that we’re not too concerned either about that original storm on the lake or the stormy times confronting Mark’s community. What do concern us are the storms that we as Church, and as individual disciples, are facing today.

Of recent years we have been made painfully aware of our own shortcomings.  Many of us older ones belonged to a Church that ‘sort of’ wasn’t built to manage a world and a culture that suddenly changed some time back. But we thought that it wasn’t bad. We were at home with authority, with clear cut answers, with all marching together, in step, to the same familiar tune. A bit of a caricature, but close enough.

And then came the Vietnam War, birth control issues, material prosperity, and with them, a radical questioning of authority, a focus on individualism, and the spread of self-interested consumerism. Priests started leaving the priesthood. Religious vocations dried up. And people stopped coming to Mass or belonging in any significant way. Not the whole story – but certainly one aspect of it. On top of all that change came the revelation that some priests had been paedophiles, and that some in authority, partly through ignorance and partly through shame or pride or a misguided sense of responsibility, had tried to keep it “in house”, to create as little stir as possible, and generally to “cover up”. Trust came under fire.

We have known shock, confusion, hurt, anger, disillusionment; and from others around us misunderstanding and sometimes ridicule. Some have blamed the messenger; some have gone underground, battened down the hatches, and hoped it would all go away. The storm we have encountered has been due partly to our own sin and partly to the sin of the world we have been sent to. Jesus’ calming of the storm seemed to have been a concession to the shortage of faith of the disciples.

Is the storm better for those with strong faith? A good question - but perhaps an academic question. And I sometimes ask myself whether the Church would be better as a Church of the perfect or a Church of sinners.....The ‘perfect’ in bulk are likely to be Pharisees. But then, sin is always bad news, too.  Perhaps we don’t have much say in all that. We are where we are, we are what we are, and we get on with the job from there.

What I find fascinating is that you’re here today - and so am I. We have all had to grow up. We have had to learn to live as adults in an adult Church. We have had to make our own inner journey, and to face the big questions that no one else could answer for us: Where do I stand? What do I really believe? What makes me tick?

Whatever about others – and we can’t read the hearts of others – we have faced the need to grapple with love and forgiveness, with trying to live with integrity in an imperfect world and an imperfect Church where we are all sinners.

We are still a work in progress, stumbling along, but we ‘sort of’ know where we’re heading - and we are learning to trust, not ourselves but God. At times Jesus seems asleep. But, asleep or not, he’s Jesus and he’s there; and we have found that that, really, is all that matters.