June 20, 2021 – 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/062021.cfm)
As a Redemptorist missionary, traveling is a big part and parcel of my life and work. As we all know, to journey around the Philippine islands would entail a lot of travel by land, sea or air. This would mean taking the car, bus, tricycle, boat, walk, bike, horse, fast ferry or plane and/or combination of all.
Once at the pre-departure area of Cebu SuperCat terminal, it was announced that our trip to Dumaguete on that day was cancelled due to incoming typhoon. A number of us were grumbling as we lined up ourselves to get our ticket refunded. It happened that one of the passengers recognized me and chatted with me. Expressing her disgust, she suggested to me, “Father, why don’t you pray like Jesus did, for the storm to pass us by.” I replied to her, “It never and will never cross my mind that I am Christ, or I am the Christ. I am a Christian, just a mere follower of Christ.”
Our Gospel today about calming of the storm, I think, teaches us about our life as Christians. It tells us what it means to be a Christian. The word Christian comes from the proper noun “Christ”, which means Messiah or Savior and the suffix “ian” which mean a follower of, a fan of. Meaning, to be a Christian is not to be Christ, but to be a disciple or follower of Christ. It is like if one is a follower of Vilma, they are called “Vilmanian,” and “Noranians” for Nora. The suffix “ian” could have an acronym. If we attached IAN to Christ, IAN could mean I Am Now with Christ. But if we detach or separate “ian” from Christ, IAN could mean I Am Nothing without Christ. Meaning, if we only remain in Him, we are assured of our salvation and eternal life. Apart from Him, we are nobody. With Him, we are blessed.
In our world today, we could recognize that there are people who claim that they are Christ, who promised that they will save us, thinks that only them who can save us, and through their own efforts, on their own, they can save themselves and others – in other words, people with messianic complex. There are also people nowadays who expect others to be their Christ who will do and save the day for them. Just like people, who wants and expects others, like their priests & government officials to heal them from sickness, forgive their sins and faults, solve their problems, fix their mess, help them financially and even perform miracles like calming the storm, exorcised their demons, and others.
Jesus also is teaching us today about PEACE, COURAGE, and FAITH. First of all, Peace is not the absence of war, conflict, storms or turmoil in life, but Peace is the sense of Calmness in the midst of life-storms, and the sense of Serenity despite wars, conflict, and difficulties in life. We cannot avoid storms in life, but what is required of us is the calmness and serenity of Jesus who says: “Quiet” amid these storms, and difficulties. He also teaches us that Courage is more than just moving on – moving fighting forward, but more on holding our ground, facing the odds, still holding on standing, and asking for help.
Jesus who says: “Be Still” shows us courage in the midst of the storm not by fighting or controlling it, but by facing the storm without being overwhelmed by it. In the same way, courage in the midst of life-storms and difficulties would mean the Christ-like attitude of not only “no retreat, no surrender”, but also “don’t fight nor flee but face it and ask for help”. Facing life-adversities is not about getting rid and getting out, but more so getting through life-challenges. And lastly, Jesus who asks: “Do you not yet have faith?” is also teaching us that Faith is not more than just the absence of fear and doubt, but to remain steadfast and trusting in the Lord’s will and ways, even when in fear and doubt.
In life, then, as His followers, we travel with the Lord in peace, courage & faith. Via con Dios. Go with God, Walk with Jesus.
As Christians, followers of Christ we pray that we may always recognize His presence and help in our life journey and so bless us with peace, courage, and faith in the midst of storms in life, most especially during these pandemic times. Amen.