22 June 2009
HOMILY: 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: Jb 38:1, 8-11; Ps 107:23-24, 25-26, 28-29, 30-31; 2 Cor 5:14-17; Mk 4:35-41
The Gospel today narrates one of Jesus’ miracle stories, one that was especially dear to the early Christian communities. When the original audiences of the gospel were reading and listening to it, the communities of believers were suffering many storms: rejections, violence, persecutions, false teachers. They found in the story both a situation they could relate to and a message of hope amidst their fears.
Here’s a story I picked from Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD: "The story is told about a bear, a lion, and a pig who were contesting who, among them, was the most feared of all. 'I growl,' said the bear, 'and the forest trembles.' 'I roar,' said the lion, 'and the jungle shakes.' And what did the pig say? 'I sneeze, and the whole world panics.' Swine flu =)
Here’s a question: What is the opposite of happiness? If you say sadness or loneliness, you’re partly right. But the real opposite of happiness is fear. Fear keeps us from fulfilling our dreams, from getting that which will make us truly happy. Fear keeps us immobilized amidst the storms in our life. And there are just so many fears afflicting people: fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of criticism…
I would like to propose then 5 Steps to Overcome Fear.
1. Acknowledge your fear but avoid negative self-talk. It is important that we recognize the things we are afraid of, so we may be able to respond to them adequately. But nothing is more self-defeating than you telling yourself you won’t amount to anything, that you just don't have it in you to do the things you wish to do.
2. Take small positive concrete actions. Take small easy steps that assure you of little victories. List down the things you need to do in order to achieve your goals. List down too the things you need to stop doing. As your confidence builds up, take bolder steps, dream bolder dreams.
3. Hold on to your motivations, goals and dreams. Remember what it is you want: Is it securing a better future for your family? Having your dream house? Getting the girl of your dreams, or Mr. Right? Serving the people through the noble pursuit of running for public office? Helping build God’s Kingdom on earth? Remember: your dream is greater than your fears. So don’t let your fears stifle your dream.
4. Be willing to accept change. Sometimes it’s not reality that’s making life extra difficult for us, it’s how we view reality. Sometimes what we need is simply a change in perspective. When we change our attitude towards a problem, the whole situation also changes for the better. In the movie Coach Carter, there is one scene where the coach pep-talked his low-morale players:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We are all meant to shine as children do. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” (Thanks to Fr. Ipe Sinco for sharing this quote.)
5. Surrender to the God who is greater than all your fears. This Sunday’s Gospel story tells us, at least, two things: (1) God is more powerful than the storms of our life. (2) God does not sleep on us.
Today is also Father’s Day. I would like to honor my father by sharing this snippet of himself. Since 1997, when he was among those retrenched from his company during the Asian financial crisis, my father no longer got employed in another company. But we never experienced want in our basic needs: food, shelter, health, education. He did it, and is still doing it, by sheer hard work, dedication and total surrender to God. He even found time to devote himself as lay minister of the Eucharist in our parish, and as president of the combined urban poor homeowners’ association of two barangays. Among the things I found inspiring in him is his daily ritual of getting up early and reading the bible. He would read the gospel text for the day, reflect on it and pray. His witnessing has also helped me during times when I have not been very faithful at prayer. He told me not just once how, time and again, God has always manifested that He has not abandoned us. "Dai man baga Niya kita pipabayaan."
St. Teresa of Avila famously wrote:
“Let nothing disturb thee;
Let nothing dismay thee;
All thing pass; God never changes.
All that it strives for.
He who has God finds he lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.”
God never changes. He who has God finds he lacks nothing. Jesus did not promise his disciples that their journey through life would always be smooth sailing, that the water will always be calm and reassuring. Far from it actually. But no matter how many or strong, the storms and rough seas we have to go through life, we know we can overcome, because He is always with us. He is more powerful than the sum of all our fears.