12th Sunday of the Year
Job 38:1, 8–11; 2 Corinthians 5:14–17; Mark 4:35–41

Amazing Grace
It often takes a storm to discover not only our heavenly Father but even our own earthly father.

John Newton was the son of an English sea captain.
When John was ten, his mother died and he went to sea with his father.

The boy learned the sea backward and forward.
 At 17, however, he rebelled against his father,
left the ship, and began living a wild life.

Eventually John took a job on a cargo ship that carried slaves from Africa to America. He was promoted rapidly and soon became captain of the ship.

Newton never worried about whether slave trade was right or wrong. He just did it. It was a way to make money.
Then something happened to change all that.

One night a violent storm blew up at sea. The waves grew to the size of mountains. They picked up Newton’s ship and threw it around like a toy. Everyone on board was filled with panic.

Then Newton did something he hadn’t done since leaving his father’s ship. He prayed. Shouting at the top of his voice,
he said, “God, if you will only save us, I promise to be your slave forever.” God heard his prayer and the ship survived.

When Newton reached land, he kept his promise and quit the slave trade. Later he studied for the ministry and was ordained pastor of a small church in Olney, England.
There he won fame as a preacher and as a composer of hymns.

One of the most moving hymns Newton wrote is one that praises God for his conversion. The words read:

“Amazing grace! how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found—Was blind,
but now I see. . . .

“Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come; Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.”

The story of John Newton bears a striking resemblance to today’s gospel.

Like Newton, the Apostles got caught in a violent storm.
Like Newton, they too cried out to the Lord, “Save us!”
Like Newton, they too were changed forever after their prayer was answered.

Today’s gospel ends its account of the storm at sea, saying of the Apostles:

“They were terribly afraid and began to say to one another,
‘Who is this man? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’ ”

Who is this man?” That was certainly the important question. And the answer, of course, lies in today’s first reading and in the responsorial psalm.

The first reading describes how God created the sea and told it what it may and may not do.

The responsorial psalm tells about sailors caught in a storm at sea. The psalmist says of them:

“In their trouble they called to the Lord, and he saved
 them. . . .
He calmed the raging storm, and the waves became quiet.”
Psalm 107:6, 29

In both of these Old Testament readings we see God exercising mastery over the winds and the waves.
God commands them and they obey him.

This is exactly what we see Jesus doing in the gospel reading.
We see him exercising mastery over the winds and the waves. He commands them and they obey him.

Today’s readings, therefore, show God in the Old Testament and Jesus of the New Testament exercising the same kind of power.

They exercise the same kind of power because they are the same. Jesus says:

“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. . . .
I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” John 14:9, 11
“The Father and I are one.” John 10:30
The story of the storm at sea answers the question
“Who is this man?” Jesus is the Son of God.

Let’s turn briefly to a second point. Let’s see how the storm at sea contains a beautiful, practical message for families on this Father’s Day.

When John Newton left his father’s ship, his father was heartsick. We can imagine his father standing on deck that night and praying to God in words like this:

“Lord, why did this have to happen?
Why doesn’t John see that I love him?
Why can’t he see that you love him?
Lord, even though John has deserted both of us, protect him. Protect him for the two of us.”

This tragic scene, or one like it, has repeated itself again and again, in home after home.
It’s not a new phenomenon in modern times.
It’s as old as the story of the prodigal son in Luke’s Gospel.

But even if sons—or daughters—don’t leave home physically,
they often leave home spiritually.
They part company with their parents when it comes to God or religion.

And this spiritual parting can be even more painful than leaving home physically.

When this happens, parents shouldn’t think of themselves or their child as failures. Rather, they should recall the story of the prodigal son and the story of John Newton.

In both stories, the son eventually returned home. And in both stories, he returned home a better son than he was when he left, and he returned home to a better father than the one he left.

The reason both—father and son—were better is because, at some point in their separation, both called out to God for help. And that’s when both became better.

It’s unfortunate, but it often takes a storm to discover not just our earthly father or son but also our heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus.

Let’s rejoice, therefore,
and let’s give thanks today for two fathers:
our earthly father and our heavenly Father.

Let’s also remember that when we find one of these fathers, we usually find the other as well.

Let’s close by repeating the words of the hymn John Newton wrote to celebrate his father and his home:

“Amazing grace! how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found—Was blind,
but now I see. . . .

“Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come; Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.”

Series II
12th Sunday of the Year
Job 38:1, 8–11; 2 Corinthians 5:14–17; Mark 4:35–41

The Storm
Prayer can turn the storms of life into occasions for great graces.

Melvin Bitters and his wife, Gertrude, were parents of six children. Like all parents, they felt the need one day to get away for a few hours by themselves. So they put the kids on their best behavior and drove to a lake to spend the day on a small sailboat.

The breeze was strong, and before long they were far out on the lake. Then, all of a sudden, the sky turned dark, the breeze turned into a violent wind, and huge, angry waves began to engulf them.

Minutes later, their boat capsized and disappeared beneath the swirling waters. Mel and his wife clung, with all their might, to two small safety cushions.

For two hours they battled the angry waves. By now the weather had turned cold, and they were both shivering and exhausted. They sensed that the end was near. With their last bit of energy, they prayed together. Then they released their hands and slowly drifted apart.

Five hours later, Mel was still afloat but in a semidelirious state. He began to call out his wife’s name. But when he got no reply, he began to lose hope that she was alive. He began to think of the agony of having to tell their children that their mother had drowned. Worse yet, he began to think of the agony of not being able to survive himself.

Then, he recalled a line from Psalm 50:
“Call to me when trouble comes;
I will save you, and you will praise me.” Psalm 50:15

And so Mel began to call out to God with all the faith and trust at his command.

Then it happened. Just as Mel’s voice began to fade and trail off, a rescue boat spotted him.

As Mel was being pulled from the cold water into the boat,
he asked his rescuers if they had any word of his wife.
They shook their heads.
“No,’’ they said, “we haven’t seen her.’’

Then an incredible thing happened. They spotted Mel’s wife off in the distance. When they reached her, she was freezing cold but still alive. It was a tearful reunion, followed by a prayer of thanksgiving.

Later, Mel and his wife—and their children—repeated their prayer of thanksgiving. They thanked God not only for having rescued them from death but also for having drawn them tremendously closer to God and to one another as a result of the storm.

That story bears a striking resemblance to the story in today’s gospel.

Both stories involve frightened people caught in a storm at sea and afraid for their lives. Both storms involve people who in their fright called out to God for help. Both stories involve people whose prayer was heard and whose faith was greatly increased as a result of their experience.

And this brings us to each one of us here.

Both of these stories point to an important message for us.
It’s a twofold message that we tend to forget and need to be reminded of again and again.

First, it’s the message that the storms of life are often occasions that draw us closer to God and to one another. Notice I said that the storms of life are often occasions that draw us closer to God and to one another. For this is not always the case.

As a matter of fact, the storms of life can do just the opposite.
They can widen the gap between God and ourselves.

And that’s where both stories point to a second message for each of us. It is this: The difference between a storm that draws us closer to God and to one another and one that does not is prayer.

But it is not any kind of prayer. It’s the kind of prayer that Jesus taught his followers to pray. It’s the kind of prayer that places all of our trust in God and in God’s will for us.
It’s the kind of prayer that Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane when he said to his Father, “Not my will, however, but your will be done.” Luke 22:42
A prayer that is not prayed in the spirit that God knows what is best for us is not really a prayer at all. A prayer that is not prayed in this spirit treats God as a servant, not as a loving Father. It betrays a basic selfishness on our part and a complete lack of trust that God knows what is best for us.

There’s an ancient legend about a mother who was raising four small children by herself. One day God told her to prepare for death. The mother protested, saying,
“Who will take care of my small children?’’

The mother said to God, “I do not understand why you are taking me, but I trust you know what is best for my children and myself. I shall prepare for death.’’

This brings us back to the twofold message that is contained in the story of Mel Bitters and in the story of today’s gospel.

It’s the message that the storms of life can draw us closer to one another and to God, or they can do just the opposite.

And the difference between a storm that draws us closer and one that does not is prayer. But it’s not any kind of prayer.

It’s the kind of prayer that Jesus prayed, and also taught us to pray, when he said, “Father . . . not my will, however,
but your will be done.” It is a prayer that places complete trust in God and in God’s will for us.

Let’s close with a familiar poem. It goes something like this:

Up in a quaint old attic, as the raindrops pattered down,
I sat paging through an old schoolbook—dusty, tattered,
and brown.

I came to a page that was folded down. And across it was written in childish hand: ‘The teacher says to leave this for now,
‘tis hard to understand.’

I unfolded the page and read. Then I nodded my head and said,
“The teacher was right—now I understand.’’

There are lots of pages in the book of life that are hard to understand. All we can do is fold them down and write:
“The teacher says to leave this for now, ’tis hard to understand.’’

Then someday—maybe in heaven—we will unfold the pages again, read them, and say, “The teacher was right—now I understand.’’

Series III
12th Sunday of the Year
Job 38:1, 8–11; 2 Corinthians 5:14–17; Mark 4:35–41

Prayer
Do what you can and then pray that God will give you the power to do what you cannot. Saint Augustine

Jesus said to the waves, “Be still!” The wind died down,
and there was a great calm. Mark 4:39

Those of us who were living during those unforgettable days of World War II may recall a poem called “Conversion.”

Movie stars quoted it at bond rallies. Politicians cited it on the floor of Congress. Disc jockeys read it against a musical background on radio stations.

After it was featured on one station, the network had to hire a staff of people to fill the thousands of requests for it.

In the jungles of the South Pacific, the poem was found tacked to trees. In England, a handwritten copy was found in the pocket of a badly wounded turret gunner, pulled from a crashed plane.

On D-Day, a chaplain found it clutched in the hands of dying soldiers on Normandy Beach.

One critic said of the poem:

Its appeal is its simple expression of a great spiritual truth in a way that people of that era could relate to.

Unless we transport ourselves back to an era far less sophisticated than our own—when thousands of soldiers were dying daily—we may find it hard to appreciate or relate to.
The poem was written by Frances Angermayer of Kansas City, in the early hours of June 3, 1943.

It was a hot night and she couldn’t sleep. She began thinking about her brother who was in service.

Then her thoughts drifted to the thousands of other young men and women who would be going into battle that night and, maybe, not returning.

She wondered what a soldier who had never prayed before might say to God before going into a dangerous battle.

She wondered what a soldier who had never prayed before
might say to God before going into a dangerous battle.

The poem read:

Look, God, I have never spoken to You . . .
You see, God, They told me You didn’t exist—And like a fool—I believed all of this.

Last night from a shell hole I saw Your sky—I figured right then they had told me a lie.

Funny—I had to come to this hellish place, Before I had the time to see Your Face. . . .
But I’m sure glad, God, I met You today. . . .

The signal!—Well, God—I’ll have to go. . . Look now—this will be a horrible fight—Who knows—I may come to Your House tonight—Though I wasn’t friendly with You before,
I wonder, God—If You’d wait at Your Door—Look—I’m crying! Me! Shedding tears!—I wish I’d known You these many years. . . .
Strange—since I met You—I’m not afraid to die.

That poem was written some 60 years ago. But the message contained in the poem and in the story behind it is just as relevant today as it was the night it was written.

It is the same message contained in today’s readings, especially the Gospel.

There comes a time in every life when we find ourselves in a situation that is beyond our ability to control or cope with.

Like the disciples during their storm at sea, all of us have experienced terrible storms in our own life.

Not storms at sea involving high winds and huge waves,
but storms nonetheless.

For example, it may be a spiritual storm that threatens to blow out the light of our faith in God.

It may be an emotional storm that threatens to destroy our marriage or an important relationship with someone we love and care about deeply.

Or it may be a psychological storm—a misunderstanding that is hard to deal with.

The storms of life can blow up and can become life-threatening, driving us further from God and ending in spiritual death.

Or they can draw us closer to God, becoming a source of new spiritual life.

The difference between a storm that draws us closer to God and one that drives us further away is doing what Frances Angermayer did—and what the apostles did. They prayed.
But it is not any prayer. It is the kind of prayer that Jesus taught his followers to pray.

It is the kind of prayer that places all of our trust in God.

It is the kind of prayer that Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane when he said to his Father,
“Not my will . . . but your will be done.” Luke 22:42

It is the kind of prayer that completely trusts that God knows what is best for us.

It is the kind of prayer that Jesus had in mind when he said to his disciples, “Ask, and you will receive.” Matthew 7:7

We many not receive in the way we prayed for or anticipated.
But our prayer will always be answered—in a way befitting infinite wisdom and infinite love.

Those who trust in the LORD for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak. Isaiah 40:31

I will turn their darkness into light and make rough country smooth before them. These are my promises, and I will keep them without fail. Isaiah 42:16

ค้นหา

Bible Diary 2019

IMG resize 2019

บทอ่านและบทมิสซา

ordomissae

พระวาจาประจำวัน

word of God 2

ข้อคิดจากพระวาจา

word of God 1

หมวดปรีชาญาณ

wisdom books

บทเพลงศักดิ์สิทธิ์

angels-5b

พันธสัญญาใหม่

spd 20110902115342 b

เอกสารฉลอง 350 ปี

350

เว็บไซต์คาทอลิก

  • bkk

  • haab

  • becthailand

  • santikham

  • pope report-francis

  • bannerpope

  • cc_link2011

  • 0002

  • thaicatholicbible

  • mass

  • bnbec

  • facebook

สถิติเยี่ยมชม (เริ่ม 22-02-2012)

วันนี้
เมื่อวาน
สัปดาห์นี้
เดือนนี้
เดือนที่แล้ว
ทั้งหมด
7184
9544
50634
246953
416637
12325942
Your IP: 3.80.223.123
2019-05-24 20:33

สถานะการเยี่ยมชม

มี 143 ผู้มาเยือน และ ไม่มีสมาชิกออนไลน์ ออนไลน์

แผนกคริสตศาสนธรรม อัครสังฆมณฑลกรุงเทพฯ 122/8 อาคารแม่พระรับเกียรติยกขึ้นสวรรค์ ซ.นนทรี 14 ถ.นนทรี แขวงช่องนนทรี เขตยานนาวา กรุงเทพฯ 10120

โทร 02-681-3850 มือถือ 095-953-3070 โทรสาร 02-681-3851