THE STORM IS OVER NOW: HOMILY FOR THE TWELFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME OF THE YEAR (B)
BY REV. FR. BONIFACE NKEM ANUSIEM Ph.D
In the year 2000 Robert Sylvester Kelly released into market the song that touched many people. R. Kelly (his stage name) came out with the block buster R&B “The Storm is over”. Beyond the beautiful rhythm, the song’s lyrics present a situation of turbulence and hopelessness which suddenly gave way to libration through the intervention of a formidable power. R. Kelly did not mention God in the song, but there is no doubt that only God can activate and actualize such an awe-striking intervention. It may not be out of place to review some of the lines from the lyrics:
I was in a tunnel
And couldn’t see the light
And whenever I’d look up
I couldn’t see the sky
Sometimes when I’m standin’
It seems like I done walked for miles
And my heart could be cryin’
Dead in the middle of a smile
But then I climbed the hills
And saw the mountains
I hollered help ’cause I was lost
Then I felt the strong wind
Heard a small voice sayin’
The storm is over
(The storm is over now)
And I can see the sunshine
(Somewhere beyond the clouds)
I feel Heaven, yeah
(Heaven is over me)
Come on and set me free, whoa!
Going through the gospel periscope today we can say for sure that Jesus and his disciples were in a more precarious situation than R. Kelly. In the case of R. Kelly, he could climb the hills, but from the gospel of today Jesus and his disciples were overwhelmed by the storm at the middle of the Sea of Galilee with no hope of any humanly possible movement that could bring about a change. They were practically trapped within the tempest!
Before going into the stormy experience proper, it will be worthwhile to reconsider what brought them to the Sea in the first place. After the teaching on the mustard seed, it was evening and Jesus announced to his disciples that they will be going over to the other side of the Sea. Note that it was evening, and that was a time to retire, but he requested that they cross over to the other side, that meant that something important is waiting on the other side of the Sea. A task needed to be done on the other side.
This is not the first time Jesus requested that they go over to the other side. Notably too each time there will always be a remarkable event. In Matthew 14: 22-32, Jesus asked them to go over to the other side while he went up to pray. Later when they were faced with a storm he came to them walking on the water. In Mark 1:38 Jesus also asked that they move over to the other side to preach and while doing that a leper was cleansed. Significantly whenever there is a moving over to the other side like we said earlier, something very important and salvific will take place. In the case of today’s gospel which can also be found in all the synoptic gospels (Matt. 8:23-27; Luke 8: 22-25) Jesus was on a specific mission. If you read Mark 5: 1-20, you will find out why he had to take an evening sail to that awful region of Gerasene. He was actually going to grant release to someone whose life had been besieged by storm; he went to set a man free from demonic tempest.
While going on this mission, a great gale arose and the waves went against the boat. The tempest was really very turbulent and it seemed that they were going to head down to the floor of the sea to become food for the carnivorous seat creatures. The storm at that point has a lot to tell us. When you are out to accomplish some good and helpful tasks you will often experience stormy oppositions on the way. It happened to our Lord and you may not be an exception.
Going further in our exposition we are told that Jesus our Lord was sleeping while the boat was tossed about by the storm. This will remind us about Jonah (1:3). In the case of Jonah he was cause of the storm, his sleep was an effort to evade blame. We could say he was not actually sleeping but dodging the obvious situation. In the case Jesus he was (and still remains) the solution, the remedy for the storm. Jesus was not actually sleeping. He was attempting to teach a lesson. In any challenge in our lives we need to be calm and repose our confidence in God. We need to realize that God is with us. This was what the disciples did not realize immediately that if Jesus is in our midst then no situation can outdo us. No storm can claim our lives. In their fear and desperation (not in faith) they called on the Lord to come to their rescue; in fact their question is most undeserving: “do you not care that we are perishing?” A question that has been answered in Psalm 27: 10; Isaiah 49: 15-16; Isaiah 54:4; Rom 8:28,31; 1 Pet 5:7. We can call on God either in faith or in fear and desperation. Often most people call on God with rumpled faith. Often we call on God only to blame him on the storm facing us! We waste time asking God why instead investing our faith in His unfailing power to save us. The disciples at this point were more hopeful of dying than living because they lacked faith in God who was actively in their midst.
Storms still rage in our lives till date. There are many who are facing storms in their relationships, in their marriages, in their work places, in their businesses, in their studies, in their plans and aspirations. It is important to note that storms are existential facts of life. God did not promise us that we will not face stormy situations but he assured us that in them all He will be with us. This simply tells us that the storm we experience today will come to pass. Like R. Kelly suggested, the STORM WIILL BE OVER. It is said that after the storm comes sunshine. We are required to do one thing. To have faith in God because he cares about us no matter the situation. In fact our lack of faith is a way of belittling God’s power to save us. The letter to the Hebrew (11:6) tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith.
A story has it that a retired army General went on a leisure boat sailing with the wife. At the middle of the sea a gale began to blow and the boat began to face furious turbulence. The wife of the General was greatly alarmed and she fretted and shouted. However the General was calm, recollected and had his head bowed down, not moving or saying anything. The wife became more angry and questioned his lax attitude in the face of such a tempestuous situation. The General was still calm. Later he brought out his rifle, pointing it at the wife; he adjusted it to shoot at her. At this point the woman started laughing and told the husband that she knew that he was joking. However the General was looking very serious and moved nearer meaning to shoot her at close range, but she was so sure that he was joking. Suddenly he lowered the rifle and laughing said: “You were so sure that I was not going to shoot you because of how much I love you, but you fretted and worried about the storm not trusting that God loves and care about us and that He will calm the storm!” It was at this point in their dialogue that they discovered that the storm had long stopped and they continued their sail with the lesson that God is even nearer when the storm is high.
You may be going through a storm at this time in your life. It may be financial, it may be health, it may be employment, it may be academic, it may be political, it may be social, and it can also be spiritual. You have to be sure of this; every storm must come to pass. With your faith in God’s unfailing words, those storms will pass away and like God assured his people in Exodus 14:13, you will not see them again. We are encouraged by the word of God today to go over to the other side. You have always being on this side of fear and hopelessness; you have always been on this side of doubts. Now there is an invitation for us to sail over to the other side of divine encounter, the other side of faith, the other side of perseverance. Evidently it is on the other side that we can record an effectual divine encounter. It is on the other side that we can experience divine liberation. Like R. Kelly there is need for us to climb the hill. The hill here stands for faith. It is only by climbing upon this hill that we can see the heavens and experience the sunshine. On the other side the storms will be over. Let us meet then at the other side.
Have a wonderful week ahead.