Soul Food for Sundays

Soul Food for The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 23th June 2024

Reflections 23rd June 2024
Mark 4:35-41

The Author: Joe Poole C.S.Sp.
calendar_today Date: June 9, 2024 - 3 minutes read

When Things Get out of Control

If you are like me, you generally like being in control, and when that is not so, it may feel very uncomfortable.

In early 2009, after a short sabbatical in Ireland, I returned to work in Angola full of life and spirit.  Within a few months of my return, I fell seriously ill, eventually discovering it was cerebral malaria.  Returning to Ireland for treatment, I was confined to my bed for a long time, trying to overcome an evident energy deficit.  I was no longer in charge of my own destiny, and this felt overwhelming – a storm that blew up in my face.  I no longer took my health for granted; the outcome was no longer in my hands.

When all is well, it is easy to convince ourselves that we have faith.  When our world is predictable, and the agenda is set for ourselves and others, we may feel that we don’t need God! When sick over the years, I have at times felt that I was sinking, that I wasn’t in control of my life.  This is not a pleasant experience.  Even little moments like when we are caught in heavy traffic or lose our phone can throw us.  The mundane moments give structure to our lives.

I would suggest that serious illness or tragedy are stronger examples of losing control of our lives.  The ego is threatened by the approach of danger, especially death, the ultimate unknown. In these uncomfortable moments we discover whether we have a faith or not; we even wonder at times if God has abandoned us.

It got out of control for the apostles, yet when they looked to Jesus, they discovered that he was asleep!  Being asleep peacefully in such moments was a sign of perfect trust in God, this contrasted with the ‘little faith’ of the apostles. Eventually the apostles rose to the challenge, enough to ‘awaken’ him with their prayers, for the storm of their fears to be stilled.

Note that Jesus was with the apostles in the boat, it didn’t prevent the storm!  When the storm strikes, as it does in every life, it doesn’t mean that God has abandoned us.  Faith means that we will not doubt the presence of God in all life experiences, especially the more difficult moments that we have to face.  Faith means that we give up the need to be in control.

This gospel challenges us to trust in God’s power at all times, especially when there are storms.

Storm at Sea, by Amar Qamar

Bringing sailors to their knees.
As they struggle to save their lives
Hoping and praying, help arrives.

The stormy seas as dark as coal,
Preventing the sailors from reaching their goal.
Battered and bruised, but still they fight…
Staring ahead, into the dead of night.
Rocking and rolling as they try to stand…
Hoping against hope, that they soon reach land.

Bleary eyed from lack of sleep.
Down in their cabins, huddled like sheep.
As they’re rocking and rolling down beneath
Weary sailors above, resist with gritted teeth.

hours later, as the storm starts to dissipate,
It leaves a calm tranquil sea in its wake.
The veteran sailors know the battle is over, and they have won…
As contemplate, other storms yet to come…

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

The Spiritans Emblem

Joe Poole C.S.Sp.

Ordained in 1995, Fr Joe served in Angola for over a decade. Returning to Ireland, he was leader of Spiritans in the West of Ireland, serving in Ballintubber Parish in the Diocese of Elphin, and is currently one of two Spiritans in Kimmage Manor Parish, Dublin.