XII Sunday Ordinary Time:  “If the love of Christ does not impel you, you have not yet met Christ.”

June 20, 2021

As Catholic Christians, we believe that the Kingdom of God broke into, entered in human life, in a whole new way in Jesus, the Christ, the anointed one.

While the cultures of people 2500 years ago believed in God and had their temples, and offered worship and sacrifices, human beings were slaves of the gods, who intimidated people.

St. Mark, who writes his gospel around the year 70 A.D., begins by telling us that what he has to tell us about Jesus, about his parables, about how God has come into our lives, is “The Good News,” the meaning of the English word “gospel.”

Jesus told his disciples at the Last Supper that we are now friends and not servants, that loving service/care is the action to imitate and to pursue.  Jesus who said to the disciple, Philip, that to have seen him and experienced him was to know God, and then, to be enabled to do greater things than Jesus did himself.

It all begins as we begin to trust what Jesus tells us about His Father and the relationship that Jesus wants to establish between us and his Father.

Last Sunday, Jesus calmed our apprehensions. He talked about God, His Father, as one who throws into the world the seeds of life which take on a life of their own and who knows how to grow and how to cultivate the gifts of creation, both humans and other, to make sure God’s plan develops itself fulfilling each part of creation’s gifts.

From the very beginning of life, we are on the way to be the person that God intended us to be.  One piece of truth that we have to remember, Job tells us today: God creates.  WE are not God.  We have to acknowledge that when we cross the line, we experience this built-in ability to fail.  “Thus far, shall you come but no farther,” Job tells us today, “and here shall your proud waves be stilled.”

In today’s gospel, when Jesus invites his disciples to “let us cross over to the other side,” it is more than an evening boat right to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.

(I was actually present in a hotel lobby on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, when a violent squall came up, throwing every lounge chair and table up into the air and waves splashing over the sea wall, and wind howling.  I stood there, frozen, behind thick glass windows, not knowing what was happening.)

“Crossing to the other side” is a metaphor for living life and confronting everything that frightens us, disturbs us, sucks life out of us, paralyzes us, and depresses us.  When such things happen, we panic, we hide, we run away, we despair, we claw onto others.

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”  We want an immediate answer for a problem that we created, most probably.  We did not want to see any warning signs that things were going from bad to worse.

Sometimes, Jesus does enter the situation and just says and does: “Quiet and be still.”  Have any of you had some kind of catastrophe moment where God did enter and save you because you so messed things up?  We offer, ask God for band aids, when he knows that we need his divine presence and life.

Sometimes, we think that God does not care, that he is letting us stew in our juices.  Then a resolution comes.  Yes, we were terrified.  Yes, we do not have much faith yet.

Have any of you ever come to the point where you have been touched by the Divine Presence, where you have been so awestruck and have spoken to your relatives and friends: “Who is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

There is a difference between being a Catholic by conviction or a Catholic by convenience.  What does it mean for us to say or to believe that Jesus Christ died for us?

Listen to what St. Paul wrote: “The love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that Jesus died for all…”  He died so that those who live no longer for themselves, might live for him.

Here’s the goal– to be a new person because the spirit of Jesus lives in me.  “The old things have passed away,” St. Paul wrote.  “Behold, new things have come.”

I am now asking God to help trust Him and others.

I am asking Jesus to help me to discern where I need to go in my life to avoid its storms.

I am asking Jesus to [help me live] life with his convictions, his heart, his love.

I am trying to develop a spiritual life for myself, a heart that listens, a heart that loves, a mind that seeks wisdom more than money and success.

Am I just doing or not doing the same old thing with God — never thinking about God, never paying much attention or saying hello or sitting down with Him in prayer?

“From now on,” St. Paul wrote, “regard no one according to the flesh.  We are children of God, children of the Spirit.  The good news is to be filled with the Good News.”

Here’s a startling thought from one spiritual writer this week: “If the love of Christ does not impel you, you have not yet met Christ.”

We have been told the story.  

We have been brought up in a Church tradition, with tools of rituals and prayers. 

But what impels you?  What convinces you?

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