The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 20, 2021
Jeremiah 38:1, 8-11
Psalm 107:23-24,25-26,28-29, 30-31
2 Corinthians 5:14-17
The Gospel of Mark 4:35-41
Deacon Mike D’Addabbo
St. Louis Catholic Church
To all you fathers, grandfathers, Godfathers, uncles and to those single mothers who, with the father absent, do double duty as both mother and father, I wish all of you a very blessed and happy Father’s Day. We also honor the spiritual fathers of the St. Louis Parish family so please join me in wishing a Happy Father’s Day to Fr. Keith, Fr. Jeo, Fr. Jins , Monsignor McArthur and Fr. Burke- retired but not forgotten. I am reminded of the words at Baptism “Dear brothers and sisters: these children, reborn through Baptism, are now called children of God, for so indeed they are.” We are all children of God. That makes God our father, and the father of all children. That is a big family. We are Blessed to be members of it. We are Blessed that God gave us Priests to be His delegates here on earth to continue His spiritual leadership begun over 2,000 years ago. Think about it, without Priests we could not have the Eucharist. Only Priests are given the graces to transubstantiate the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. I cannot think of anything more powerful, or giving, than that. It is our faith driven belief that the substance of the Eucharist, Holy Communion, is the real presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. May God continue to bless our Priests for all they do for us. We are God’s children entrusted to your care.
Today’s gospel is so perfect for Father’s Day. It is the story of the Apostles awake in a boat with Jesus who is sleeping. A violent storm comes up, the winds and the water are extremely turbulent, so the boat is really being tossed around. Picture in your mind how the boat in the movie “The Perfect Storm” was being tossed around in the ocean. Remember how afraid the captain and the crew in the movie were as they tried to navigate their way out of the storm? We know that they were unsuccessful. I think the Apostles had that same level of fear and hopelessness. The ocean can be unforgiving as can the Sea of Galilee, which is approximately 12 miles long and 8 miles wide, has depths up to 200 ft., is below sea level and is the second lowest lake in the world. It is also in an area prone to stormy weather. It would not be unheard of for boats to sink during a violent storm.
Now the boat that Jesus and the disciples are in is not a big boat. Sarah and I went to the Holy Land in 2018. Among many artifacts we saw a boat that archaeologists had discovered and excavated. Scientists conducted several tests on it. They believe it is a boat that would be common for the time that Peter, James, and John were fishermen making it similar in size to the boat that Jesus and the Apostles would have been in. That boat could fit inside a 20 ft. box truck and there would still be room for the trailer.
Now imagine you are the disciples in this tiny boat being tossed around in a violent sea storm. You are in a severe stage of panic and are afraid of dying while, unbelievably, Jesus is sleeping. You wake him up and ask Him how he could sleep, what are they going to do and isn’t he afraid of dying? Jesus does not panic. He simply tells the sea, the winds, the storm to calm down. And they do. Jesus then looks at the disciples and asks them why they are afraid? Don’t they have faith?
So why is this parable so great on Father’s Day? Because we are like the Apostles who turned to Jesus in the same way we turn to our Fathers, our dads when we are afraid. We know, we believe that regardless of what it is our parents, our dads, will protect us and guide us. If we are afraid, they will save us. As children, and even into adulthood, we strive for our parents’ approval in all the things we do. For a male, the approval of his dad is an integral part of his self- measure of success. I know this from experience. When I got the job that became my career, the first person I called was my dad. He told my mom. The next person I called was Sarah who eventually became my wife. Our dads want us to be more successful than they were. We want our children to have a better life than we had. That means we have to include God as part of our fatherly leadership. It is a fact that if a father does not participate in a child’s faith journey, then that child has a stronger chance of being led away from the Church and God than if the dad was involved. That does not mean just attend Mass though that is a good start. It means being involved in your child’s life and faith upbringing. That is fulfilling an obligation you made to God at your child’s Baptism. and your This is not a slam on mothers who have traditionally been the leader of the spiritual journey of the family. The children will excel when the dads join with their wives in the role of spiritual leadership of their family/.
So now back to the Apostles, the boat and Jesus’ question to them “Do you not yet have faith?” They have just heard Him tell the crowds four different parables and they asked Him the purpose of speaking in parables. Jesus replied “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven…” Simply put Jesus has revealed to them everything about the kingdom of God but they did not grasp it. They saw Him perform miracles, yet they still lacked a trusting faith. Today, 2000 years later and without the benefit of having Jesus physically walking among us, we profess to have the same faith in Jesus that the Apostles were supposed to have in the boat. My prayer is that we all have, or had, that same faith in our fathers. As children we knew that they would save us from anything dangerous. We often thought of them as invincible. The scariest thing in a child’s life is to see their father or mother home, in bed and to sick to take care of you. You are afraid because this is not supposed to happen. Parents take care of us. They do not need to be taken care of and when they do it is scary.
Jesus showed us the perfect example of fatherhood and love. Yes, he gave His life for us but, just as importantly, he has also shown us how immeasurable is the amount of His mercy. And that is what we as fathers need to replicate with our children. We are all children of God and God our Father forgives us so we as fathers must also be forgiving. That does not mean that we get a free pass to do whatever we want. Just as God requires us to be clean in spirit to enter heaven, we can require our children to be clean in actions and spirit. God wants us and our children to join Him in heaven and we promised Him, at their baptism, that we would lead our children in the faith with the goal of their obtaining heaven.
Sometimes that means making difficult and unpopular decisions. That is also part of being a dad but it is not so difficult if you place your trust in God to guide your decisions. Again, compare this with the Apostles in the boat. They did not have faith that the storm would subside on its own before they died so they woke Jesus up because they knew to trust in Him. They had seen Him perform miracles. Perhaps we have seen miracles but do not know it. I consider St. Jude’s a miracle. What are the chances that a down on his luck comedian would make a promise to St. Jude that if his professional life turned around he would do something to give thanks to God? Today we have the world renowned St. Jude’s Children’s Research hospital, performing life-saving research and witnessing miracles daily for all of God’s children. And it is located right here in Memphis. Imagine what Memphis would be like without St. Jude’s? It is a daily reminder of miracles for the city of Memphis also.
Finally, in my homily last month, I talked about my perception that our Church is in a crisis. I said “… We must also have courage to act, or question, something that we think is wrong and misleading to the faithful. We must approach the situation with love and prayer…There is a growing rift among the faithful and the leaders on how the Church should treat Catholic politicians who officially support and promote abortion…” I asked that we pray for our Church and specifically for our Bishops who would be attending their June meetings by zoom and tackling difficult issues, one of them being addressing the proper state we should be in to receive the Eucharist. The USCCB issued the following news release “The full body of bishops also voted to task the Committee on Doctrine to move forward with the drafting of a formal statement on the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church. Requiring a simple majority vote for approval, the action item passed with 168 votes in favor, 55 against, and 6 abstentions.” We do not know what this means as far as what the final document will say, but it does mean that the bishops are aware of, and not afraid to confront, this divisive controversy among the faithful. They will guide us on this in our spiritual journey. The same way that we look to our fathers for guidance. That is why we love our fathers. They protect and guide us. We want to please them.
We should want to please God the same way. In a few minutes we will pray the Lord’s prayer- the Our Father. Today do not just pray it but ponder its words. Every sentence has a meaning. It is an acknowledgement of God’s power and infinite mercy and our plea for His help in doing His will. Happy Father’s Day to all.