Catholic homily outline for Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – Faith

"The Storm at Seat." Detail from bronze Celtic Cross by C. Malcolm Powers

“The Storm at Sea,” detail from bronze Celtic Cross by C. Malcolm Powers

Central idea: Faith in God who has visited his people. Doctrine: Faith in Christ even in the midst of adversity. Practical application: Practicing the faith in the here and now.

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.) This outline is written to be in accord with the Homiletic Directory issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (2014). (To read an excellent summary of the Homiletic Directory, click here.)

To view Lectionary 95, click here.

Central idea: Faith in God who has visited his people

Reading 1 Jb 38:1, 8-11

The Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said:
Who shut within doors the sea,
when it burst forth from the womb;
when I made the clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling bands?
When I set limits for it
and fastened the bar of its door,
and said: Thus far shall you come but no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stilled!

  • As Creator, God brought into being out of nothing everything that was originally created. And he sustains in existence everything that exists.
  • He also established within them the physical laws of nature to govern what they are, what they can do, and what they can become.
    • As St. Augustine put it long before the modern, scientific laws of nature were discovered, “In the earth from the beginning, in what I might call the roots of time, God created what was to be in times to come” (On the literal meanings of Genesis, Book V Ch. 4:11). God put a marvelous potential in the simplest elements.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 107:23-24, 25-26, 28-29, 30-31

R. Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting or Alleluia

They who sailed the sea in ships,
trading on the deep waters,
These saw the works of the LORD
and his wonders in the abyss.

His command raised up a storm wind
which tossed its waves on high.
They mounted up to heaven; they sank to the depths;
their hearts melted away in their plight.

They cried to the LORD in their distress;
from their straits he rescued them,
He hushed the storm to a gentle breeze,
and the billows of the sea were stilled.

They rejoiced that they were calmed,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his kindness
and his wondrous deeds to the children of men.

  • Wind and wave follow their own laws, the laws put in things from their very origin by God, as St. Augustine pointed out.
  • Sailors are among those who know how puny they are in the face of the powers of nature. When their own skills are exhausted and the limits of their boats are reached, they can’t but call on he who is more powerful than nature, just as the disciples called on their sleeping Lord when their boat was about to be sunk.
  • This psalm is also an image of everyone’s life. Despite every advance in science and technology, we are still puny and in danger of injury and death from the forces of nature.
    • How many airbags will it take for an automobile to be so safe that we don’t need to ask God to protect us on a journey?

Reading 2 2 Cor 5:14-17

Brothers and sisters:
The love of Christ impels us,
once we have come to the conviction that one died for all;
therefore, all have died.
He indeed died for all,
so that those who live might no longer live for themselves
but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh;
even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh,
yet now we know him so no longer.
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.

  • Paul tells us that “those who live” ought to “live . . . for him,” for Christ. We ought to live for Christ not for ourselves. To live for him is to have faith in him and to act accordingly.
  • Our motivation, what “impels us,” is Christ’s love for us shown by dying for us and rising from the dead.
  • In Christ we are a new creation, no longer ultimately subject to death. There is no longer any reason to be terrified of nature or to fear other human beings.

Gospel Mk 4:35-41

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples:
“Let us cross to the other side.”
Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.
And other boats were with him.
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat,
so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up,
rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?”
They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

  • Nature has power over Our Lord, as man. Our Lord has complete power over nature, as God.
    • Exhausted by the work he had been doing, Our Lord fell into such a deep sleep that he was not awoken by the violent squall.
    • Awoken by his disciples, he rebuked the wind and the sea and they became quiet.
  • Jesus asked his disciples, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”
    • Faith is something they could get or get more of, since they did not have it yet. They would get it by entrusting themselves to the object of their faith, their master, Jesus Christ.
    • Jesus is also saying, if you have faith in him, you should not be terrified. If we have faith in him we should not be afraid of death.

Doctrine: Faith in Christ even in the midst of adversity

  • Our faith is in Jesus Christ, who is true God and true Man (CCC 423).
    • Born of the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ is “the eternal Son of God made man.”
    • He came to bring us benefits: “from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace” (Jn 1:16) (CCC 423).
    • As the Gospel verse puts it, “A great prophet has risen in our midst, God has visited his people.”
  • Faith in Jesus Christ is a gift of grace to which we respond with our assent, our “yes.”
    • “Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith ‘man freely commits his entire self to God.’ For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God’s will. ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ Living faith ‘work[s] through charity.’”(CCC 1814)
      • We can say “yes” to Christ and to all he reveals because he is truth itself.
      • We say “yes” with our total selves.
      • Our “yes” includes doing God’s will once we know it.
      • God’s will is that we love one another with deeds.
    • Our “yes” means we “also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it” (CCC 1816).
      • Every Catholic’s vocation thus includes evangelization.
    • We maintain our “yes” despite adversity.
      • Our age, the era of the Church—so far almost 2000 years in—is one of constant travail. “According to the Lord, the present time is the time of the Spirit and of witness, but also a time still marked by “distress” and the trial of evil which does not spare the Church and ushers in the struggles of the last days” (CCC 672).
      • If you can see the signs of the times, we are now entering a new time of special adversity for all who live and want to practice the faith. Every one of us will need more doctrine, more virtue, and above all, more faith so as not to be like the terrified disciples in the boat.

Practical application: Practicing faith in the here and now

  • Practicing the faith interiorly:
    • We can make a formal act of faith by reading (and soon memorizing) an Act of Faith, like the one linked to here.
    • A very simple act of faith can be made anytime we feel our personal “yes” to God is under attack or when we witness another person attack the Catholic faith: “I believe!” or even just, “Credo!”
  • Practicing the faith exteriorly:
    • When we do God’s will in very tiny or in bigger ways, we are saying “yes” by our actions. We are also giving silent but powerful witness to our faith through our living example.
    • We can have outward visual signs of our faith in our home (like a picture of the Sacred Heart), in our car (like a little statue of Our Lady), on our desk at work (like a small crucifix), on our electronic devices (like a decal), even on our clothing (like a “tiny feet” pin). We can also witness our faith by saying grace in a restaurant if we are alone or if the person we are with is Catholic and agrees. We can also witness by slightly bowing our head when we hear the name “Jesus.”
    • This is not to say we are to be walking billboards, but if we really believe in God it should naturally show through.
    • We can also speak explicitly about our faith. This can be to give witness to our faith, to explain something about the faith, or even to defend the Catholic religion (gently) when someone attacks it.
  • In the Offertory, each of us can offer up whatever efforts we have made up till now to live our faith. We can also offer our desire to do more. This unites us intimately with the mystery of our Lord’s death and resurrection, which we celebrate in the Eucharist.
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