Bishop Glen John Provost
Bishop of Lake Charles
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Lake Charles, Louisiana
June 21, 2015
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Quiet! Be still!” Mark 4:39
How often did we hear our fathers speak those words? They are words of command. They are spoken with authority. We would expect nothing less from a parent who wanted to restore order to a household in occasional chaos.
We hear Jesus speak those words in the Gospel today. He and His disciples were in a boat on the sea, and a “violent squall” (Mark 4:37) arose. It must have been a truly dangerous moment because we are told waves were breaking over the sides of the boat. Jesus is “in the stern, asleep on a cushion” (Mark 4:38). Twice have I been in a storm on the high seas. I can assure you that you do not sleep. But Jesus is the master of the “wind and sea” (Mark 4:41). This is the Lord who divided the waters for creation and whose marvels of taming nature are sung about in the psalms. “Quiet!,” He says. “Be still!” (Mark 4:39), and calm returns.
The boat became for the early Christians a symbol of the Church. Rocked by angry seas and threatened by chaos, God protects His Church and brings it to safe harbor. The passengers need not be afraid.
But we like the disciples in the boat of today’s Gospel awake the Lord with our plea, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38). We are afraid. We see what is threatening to overwhelm us, and we cry out. And the Lord asks us, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” (Mark 4:39). There Jesus has hit upon the essence of the problem. Faith is a precious gift, a gift that must be cultivated like a delicate plant and guarded like a valuable jewel.
Couples, especially couples celebrating several years of married life, must understand this better than anyone else. They have seen a great deal. The trials they have had to face have been many. There were no doubt times when they wanted “to throw in the towel.” But they didn’t. Why? I would say they had faith. They knew, somehow, someway, that God would bring them through the storm and bring their ship into a safe harbor. There were times when God seemed to be sleeping, but their faith told them otherwise. Their faith in God’s loving Providence strengthened them and gave them that virtue which is so important for the married life—patience because without patience, there can be no perseverance. Patience flows from the virtue of faith, faith that knows God never sleeps and is there sustaining, protecting, and loving what belongs to Him.
The couples celebrating wedding anniversaries today have a great deal to teach us. They witness to the world the importance of faith. This witness the world desperately needs, to reassure us of the faith that can move mountains.
It is my prayer that you will relish this occasion to rejoice with family and friends in the graces that God has showered upon you in your married life. For the wind has ceased and there is great calm (Mark 4:39).
Bishop Glen John Provost