Sunday 21 June 2015

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost YB- Br. Luke

Homily preached by Br. Luke efo at Springwood on Sunday 21st June 2015

Andre-Rublev's Saviour


Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Gospel: Mark4:35-41

The English composer Margaret Rizza has set to music these words of David Adam:

Calm me, Lord, as you calmed the storm; still me, Lord, keep me from harm.
Let all the tumult within me cease, enfold me, Lord, in your peace.
Calm me, Lord, as you calmed the storm; still me, Lord, keep me from harm.
Let all the tumult within me cease, Lord, enfold me in your peace.

Words which resonate with today's Gospel reading.  The hauntingly beautiful piece of music personalises for us the essence of wonder and turmoil we can sense in Jesus’ action in the calming of the storm. The disciples were in fear of their lives, and here was Jesus peacefully sleeping in the back of the boat. Now I don’t know about you, but as one who gets horribly seasick, I studiously try to avoid the sea, and even the Manly ferries when the Sydney Harbour looks rough, so the disciples have my sympathy and support in their fear.

When they woke him, Jesus dealt with the storm and then with them.  Mark says the disciples were afraid and we can read the verse as though they were afraid of Jesus. But I think this is too strong. They thought they were going to die and then with simple words Jesus ensures calm, peace and their survival. Of course we are not shocked by this, after all it was with words, his voice, that God created and Jesus is also known to us as the Word Incarnate.

So words are, and have always had, an integral part of our experiences and understanding of our faith and of our God. Yet here is a dramatic depiction of the interaction the creator has with his creation, both nature and human.

In our lives we experience all sorts of storms, tempests and fears. We can feel alone and adrift, while a storm rages around and batters us into some sort of submission. In the midst of this turmoil, we seek a haven, a place where we will be safe and calm. So we can certainly identify with the disciples fears and I think it is this yearning that we recognise in the lyrics I quoted earlier.

Now I have no doubt that we do seek, well maybe when we remember or are really desperate, the calm that Jesus can bring to our storms. But we have to have the very things that Jesus queried in his disciples – trust and faith. Not just platitudes, saying that we have them, but really having them. Knowing with certainty, with an unshakable conviction that Christ will bring calm into our lives. This is something we have to have in our hearts and not in our heads.

We have to know, not think, this knowledge. Now if we are honest with ourselves, we’d have to say we don’t do this all the time. We do it when we remember or are desperate. So our challenge, our task, if you like, is to move this knowledge from our heads into our hearts. I suspect that you are all now saying to yourselves, that’s all very nice brother, but how do we do this? How do we move knowledge from our head to our heart? After all isn’t knowledge a head thing?

My reply is, yes it is, if you think in two dimensions, something we all like doing. However, we have to think outside these dimensions. We have to think in three or even more dimensions. We have to see a depth in knowledge that takes our thoughts from our minds and places them into our hearts. Perhaps the most surprising thing is, that if you pause for a moment, you may realise that this is something we do every time we believe in something that is intangible.

It is not enough to just think that Jesus will calm the storm, we need to know it without thought. We have to have it as an inherent, an integral part of our life and being. Now I agree with you, it is not easy, it is very, very difficult.   To achieve it, we will have to abandon some, if not all of our natural instincts, to deny ourselves, ah now isn't that something we've heard elsewhere in the Gospel? Yet when we achieve this move, and yes we can do it, then we are expressing, we are living, our faith.

Here then is the essence of faith – an inherent, integral, yes an almost innate, heart based knowledge. We commence, continue and develop this movement of knowledge by something we do every day. By communicating both verbally and silently – with words. Yes I'm talking about prayer. It is not, or rather it should not be, any surprise to us that we read again and again that Jesus went off to pray. Or that the multitude of saints and holy people throughout the ages have all had an experience and the discipline of prayer at the centre of their lives.

Maybe then, it will not be as difficult or nearly as impossible as you may have thought.  We can achieve the head to heart knowledge movement. But we have to be diligent, to be committed to the practice of prayer. This is why, that though the centuries religious communities of friars, monks and nuns have had a daily regime of regular, frequent prayers built into the pattern of their lives. They knew, and they still know, that without this practice, we become distracted and that our heart knowledge will slowly start to reverse its movement. It will revert to once again residing in our heads. When that happens our faith weakens and in time it will dissipate.

So dear ones, be of good cheer and have great joy. Be assured that with, or rather through, prayer we can achieve the heart knowledge that Jesus will calm our storms.  Do not doubt that when, as David Adam so eloquently phrased it, we say: “Lord, enfold me in your peace”, Jesus – God, will do so.