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Spirituality of the Readings
12th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Year B
June 20, 2021
John Foley, SJ
Parental Pains

In the First Reading we get to hear the story of creation told by God himself.

He tells it to the “prophet” Job, who is in great pain.* People often think that God in the Old Testament is fierce and harsh, but here we find God described as a mother giving birth.

Faith and trust are openings that allow God’s love to come into us.

He tells Job that the sea came forth from God's womb! And he says that he took the clouds and wove them into swaddling clothes for baby ocean and then made the clouds into garments.

The infant sea turns out to be a wild child, however. God has to make some parental rules, as when a mother or father says “no throwing the ball inside the house. Go play outside.” It is as if God says to the ocean, “you may have all your wild fun in your own space, but you may not cross onto the dry land. Now mind me.”

The reason God speaks with such maternal care is because he is faced with Job, an individual who has lost hope. God had long delayed answering Job’s prayers, it is true, had let Job’s immense losses go on for a very long time. Now, at last, he tries to soften Job’s despair. “Weren't you present when I lavished such love on everything I created?” he asks. “Don’t you remember my love? Don’t you trust it?”

In the lines of scripture that follow the ones included in our reading, Job sees how wrong his depression had been, how God’s infinite love had been there all along. Apparently God’s delay was needed in order to strengthen Job’s faith and trust. Maybe real surrender to grace happens this way.

For its part, the Gospel shows Jesus using the same manner of love on the disciples in the boat. He too takes his time giving them help. He lets the winds and waves nearly engulf their boat while he is busy snoozing in the back. To borrow words from the Responsorial Psalm, the heaving boat and its men …

sank to the depths;
their hearts melted away in their plight.

How could Jesus snore through this? The men shake him into consciousness and he does finally calm the waves. The disciples must have looked like scared children as they tried to regain their melted hearts and their dignity.

Then Jesus revealed his plan, or at least hinted at it. “Do you not yet have faith?” he asked. Strange question. But just like God with Job, Jesus is using tough love to invite their faith to go deeper. “Don’t you remember that God’s love is all around you, and in fact is now riding right next to you in this boat?”

Why are Jesus and God so bent on inducing faith and trust in us?

Because faith and trust are openings that allow God’s love to come into us. He cares enough about us to allow pain and sorrow to find us and to stretch us and to open doors to a deeper relation with him.

Our Lord does not cause the pain and sorrow, but allows it. And lets it stretch us and even to stretch himself. He joins us, and invites us to join him in the saving, widening power of reversal: instead of only happy, painless living, we are allowed to take part in human form in this life of God.

John Foley, SJ
________
 * Some people want to pronounce this prophet’s name in the same way Steve Jobs said his: rhyming with what many of us pursue to earn a living. But this is a Hebrew prophet, and it rhymes with “oh.” Johbs. Jobs!

Father Foley can be reached at:
Fr. John Foley, SJ


Fr. John Foley, SJ, is a composer and scholar at Saint Louis University.


Art by Martin (Steve) Erspamer, OSB
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C). This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go http://www.ltp.org