Twelfth Sunday B 2021
June 20, 2021
Mark 4: 35-41
By Rev. John Tran
Today is the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, but most in our country is focused another aspect today: Father's Day. Fatherhood is a reality important in all our lives. It not only important for us to honor our own fathers, but we need to look out what fatherhood means in our own lives whether or not we are actual fathers or mothers ourselves.
We recall our fathers. A father can be a central force as our lives develop. The first thing that is evident is that our father is part of our very creation. Our fathers not only help provide the things necessary for sustaining life, such as food, clothes and shelter, but of nurturing our lives with love, attention, teaching, and caring. Perhaps the most important thing a father does is to help us have the ability to trust.
We often read or know of very significant happenings with fathers that make a big impact on learning trust, like a child being saved from a potential death-causing situation, like being saved from drowning. These have a huge effect effect on us and our memories. But is really the smaller, daily ones that have a more lasting effect on our ability to trust. In my own life, I am thinking of my Dad taking time to read out loud to me, or talking with me of his growing up years, or later about an interest of mine: history. It is the repeated instances that we remember too. These help us to learn to trust.
Trust is one of the most important things for a 1 - 2 year old child to learn. A well respected psychologist, Erick Erickson, has worked out 8 stages of human development going from infancy to old age. The first developmental stage in infancy is Trust verses Mistrust. If a young child does not learn to trust, it will had difficulty with the remaining 7 stage, the last being Integration versed Despair. So trust is important for human development and it is also important for spiritual growth. Trusting those significant people around us will greatly help us to trust in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
We are all, in some way fathers or mothers. If not biological parents, we are spiritual fathers. We can do this with those of almost any age who seeking some to help them grow in trust either humanly or spiritually; a niece or nephew, a younger friend whom we mentor, a pupil or a person seeing us for spiritual direction. In doing these things, we are following our model, brother, and Lord, Jesus Christ. This act of bring to faith is exactly what is taking place in today's gospel of the apostles with Jesus in the stormed-tossed boat.
In an art museum in Boston there is a painting by Rembrandt entitled “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee.” It is Rembrandt’s interpretation of this scene. It shows panic etched on the faces of the disciples, as their small vessel is being raised up on a high wave, about to be crashed down. Two of the disciples are attempting to rouse Jesus who is asleep in the stern of the boat. But if you look more closely, you will discover that there is something that is not quite right. There are too many people in the picture. So you count them. There are fourteen. There should only be thirteen (twelve disciples and Jesus). But instead there are fourteen. It is then that you notice that one of the men in the boat is Rembrandt. He has painted himself into the picture. He has placed himself in the same boat. Which is precisely what we should do. It is the way that we are supposed to interpret this passage. We are in the boat with Jesus, faithful but frightened. There is no immunity for any of us. We are caught up in the same fix of needing to trust that God is with us, just as we trusted our father to be. The disciple had to learn one more time that they could trust in Jesus presence within them, even when he seemed absent.
Jesus is model, brother, and Lord, but he is also in a sense our Father; after all, he and the Father are one. Because of him we have life, both physically and spiritually. Because of him our lives are sustained. Because of him we can learn trust. Because of him, we are called to be his presence in our own spiritual fatherhood or motherhood to those who need that presence.
The epistle today tells us that we are now part of new creation. As part of this new creation, we are able to take part in Christ's peace and trust in his lasting presence. And even more, we can be enablers of this presence by being open to opportunities of being spiritual fathers and mothers.