Sunday, June 21, 2015

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

From a Sermon by St. Augustine, on the Gospel of Christ calming the storm at sea:

With the Lord’s help I want to speak to about today’s reading from the holy gospel, and to urge you in his name not to let your faith lie dormant in your hearts when you are buffeted by the winds and waves of this world. The Lord Christ’s power is by no means dead, nor is it asleep. Do you think the Almighty was overcome by sleep in the boat against his will? If you do, then Christ is asleep in your hearts. If he were indeed keeping watch within you, then your faith too would be vigilant. The Apostle, remember, speaks of Christ dwelling in your hearts through faith.

From the Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Philanthropinon,
Ioannina, Greece, ca. 1531
When you have to listen to abuse, that means you are being buffeted by the wind; when your anger is roused, you are being tossed by the waves. So when the winds blow and the waves mount high, the boat is in danger, your heart is imperiled, your heart is taking a battering. On hearing yourself insulted, you long to retaliate; but the joy of revenge brings with it another kind of misfortune – shipwreck. Why is this? Because Christ is asleep in you. What do I mean? I mean you have forgotten his presence. Rouse him, then; remember him, let him keep watch within you, pay heed to him. Now what was your desire? You wanted to get your own back. You have forgotten that when Christ was being crucified he said: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Christ, the sleeper in your heart, had no desire for vengeance in his. Rouse him, then, call him to mind. (To remember him is to recall his words; to remember him as to recall his commands.) Then, when he is awake within you, you will ask yourself, “Whatever kind of wretch am I to be thirsting for revenge? Who am I to threaten another? Suppose I were to die before I am avenged! Suppose I were to take leave of my body breathing out threats, inflamed with rage and thirsting for that vengeance which Christ himself never sought; would he not refuse to receive me? He who said, Give and it shall be given you; forgive and you will be forgiven, would indeed declined to acknowledge me. So I will curb my anger and restore peace to my heart.”

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