“ For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind “ (2 Timothy 1:7). Inspired by the prophecy of Isaiah 49:2, Florence Jones Hadley wrote in 1914 the popular hymn; “ In The Hollow of His Hand” “ In the hollow of His hand He will hide me, when doubt and sin draw near, Though no earthly friend may walk beside me, I rest secure from fear. I know whate’er betide me, His hand will safely guide me, His love will ever hide me; In the hollow of His hand He will hide me When the storm is on the deep, And I know whatever may betide me, His vigil He will keep. In the hollow of His hand He will hide me When the storms of life sweep by, To the harbour safe He will guide me, where His blessed islands lie.” The above hymn sung in most of our Christian worship centres gives us a perfect picture of the readings of this 12th Sunday in the Church’s Ordinary Time year B. The First reading reminds us of Job and his predicaments which was at the time he realized that God can triumph over all sufferings that he overcame his own suffering (Job 38:1-11). The Psalm succinctly put us on the path of gratitude to God whose love and compassion can not be measured by human standard (Ps 107: 1-31) The Second reading assures us of Christ’s unfailing love which was why Jesus died at the appropriate time in order to save and renew us(2Cor 5:14-17) and the Gospel eminently shows the supreme power of God over and above all the destructive and chaotic forces(Mark 4:35-41).
The Church simply reminds and urges us in today’s liturgy that the Lord in His love and mercy is able to bring order from Chao and gives us peace in the midst storms of life. Yes and true life is full of storms. Just take a look at the storms we are going through as a nation today in Nigeria. Worries, fears, complaints and uncertainties have taken the central stage of our life as a nation as a result of personal interest, greediness, lack of focus and proper management of both our natural and human endowments. Obviously the readings today are stimulus for us to meditate on our faith-relationship with God; to trust in His merciful love and to have faith that He guides all the events of history and the life of each person. And when come times when we do not know what to do; when we stand at some crossroads and we have a lot of faceoffs like Jesus’ disciples on the sea; calamities, injustices, insecurities, diseases, the innocent suffering and the minority bad heads are making decisions for the majority of the society like the specific situation in our country Nigeria at the moment, we should rather look ahead with hope that the love of Christ urges us on(- 2Cor 5:14) and that the Lord Jesus is true to His name, Emmanuel”God with us” and in Him we have the assurance that we will tell the story how we’ve overcome.
In other words, faith makes us realize that God created us in love, He has the power to sustain us with His providence and will save us in His mercy. Consequently, Jesus’ perceived sleep in the boat in today’s gospel could be a test of faith for the disciples which Jesus Himself noted; “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Parallel to this, St. Matthew and Luke record respectively that, But Jesus answered, “Why are you so afraid, you of little faith?” Or where is your faith? (Mt 8:26; Lk 8:25). Jesus asks you and I the same question when at some moment the voyage of life and earthly worries are overwhelming and we are almost losing our confidence in God. We should never forget that ‘with confidence in God, Christ remains our strength.’ Our Faith Response must be that, the Lord gives us peace when life’s problems involve us in a tempest of doubt and tension and uncertainty.
Therefore like the disciples on the one hand in today’s gospel episode we should call on Jesus to save us. And it was at this juncture that they knew more and more that Christ is the Lord and His name “Jesus” means The Saviour. The gospel Evangelist, Mark says that the disciples were “overcome with awe”, they were surprised, stunned and asked one another: “Who can this be? Even the wind and the sea obey him.” Mark 4:41. This final statement of today’s gospel reveals that the Lord is in control over all and His authority is absolute to bring about the desired peace and calm in our present situation and not like the philosophical position of Deus absconditus defined as hidden God; “God who in his remoteness seems to ignore human suffering.” Just name your own versions of life’s storm to Jesus; lack of good job, marital problems, poor income and finance, poor health condition, instability in your academic career or businesses.
Jesus is able to take care of it because He is in the boat with you and is aware of the storm you are battling with. So, don’t even like the fearful disciples think you will be consumed or perish by the storm. Of course, the storm in our life and our response to it, and Jesus’ intervention is a confirmation of His promise in John 16:33; “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world .” In conclusion beloved in Christ, St. Paul reminds us of our strength in Christ’s love that, “no temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it(1Cor 10:13).” And in another place, he says; “ Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our trouble, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God(1Cor 1:3-4).
“ With this St. Paul raises up our gratitude voice in conjunction with today’s Psalmist that the will of God for us in Christ in all circumstances of our life is to give Thanks which has the ability to make our faith shine brightly over and above our fear like the Virgin Mary Mother of God and many of our patriarchs; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. May the Lord take us to Himself always even amidst the many storms in life and increase our faith and confidence in Him so we can continue to be heralds of Good News. Amen. Happy Sunday!
• Rev. Fr. Michael ‘Lekan Agbemuko is of the Catholic Diocese of Ekiti