Who Calms Storms

(Homily for Twelfth Ordinary Sunday, Year B)

Bottom line: God allows storms for a purpose - the salvation of souls; Jesus calms storms.

This year marks the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln. I have tried to read about him, especially his leadership during the Civil War. It was our nation's greatest crisis - and was often described as a "storm." The man called to guide the ship was President Lincoln. To fight such a war required great sacrifice - and the people responded by giving their material resources, but much more important their sons and husbands as soldiers. Lincoln knew that he was asking the greatest sacrifice from those young men - and he visited them often on the front lines and in the hospitals. The soldiers developed deep affection for Lincoln. You could see it in the nicknames they gave him: "Old Abe," "Honest Abe," but by the end of the war, they called him "Father Abraham."

Now, I in no way compare myself to Abraham Lincoln, but the title I most treasure is "Father." We have been through storms together these last fourteen years and I thank you for your fidelity to God - and for your trust in me as your spiritual father. I may not always merited such trust. Sometimes I let people down; for that I ask forgiveness. But, above all, I thank you for the sacrifices you have made: Your time to attend Mass and to participate in parish activities. The financial resources you have put at the service of our parish. Your many acts of kindness and care.

I have been overwhelmed by your words of appreciation. It is encouraging to know that I have touched people and done some good during this time. I am proud to be your father. At the same I am deeply aware that any good I have done is not mine - but from the Lord. He alone calms storms.

We have faced many challenges. They have spurred us to pull together. I thought about drawing up a list of things we have accomplished: the new roofs and boilers for our for principal buildings, the renovation inside those buildings and on our parish grounds, the various apostolic groups, our school that has survived some difficult times, the assistance we have given to the needy here and in other parts of the world. But, you know, of all the initiatives we have taken, there is one that gives me greatest satisfaction: round the clock adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. It is there that the storms of my own life have been calmed. And it is there so many people go - sometimes in the middle of the night - to seek refuge in midst of tumult. Jesus calms storms.

President Lincoln was moving toward that awareness as the war neared its end. As a young man, Lincoln saw God as a distant figure - uninvolved in human life and history. The great storm - the Civil War - made him reflect more deeply. He saw God's judgment of both sides - North and South. He recognized that none can evade guilt and chastisement. But he also glimpsed mercy. He concluded his second inaugural address by saying: "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in..."

I ask you also to "finish the work we are in." By God's grace we have done some good things together. May we bring them to proper conclusion, which for us can only mean one thing - the salvation of souls. When God allows us to pass through storms, it is for that purpose - the salvation of our souls. And there is only one who can calm the storms. If we sometimes think that he is distant - or even asleep - know that he can wake in an instant and speak those powerful words; "Quiet! Be still!"


IGeneral Intercessions for the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B (from Priests for Life)

Spanish Version

From Archives (12th Ordinary Sunday - Year B):

2015: Through Him - Week 3: Love of Christ Impels Us
2009: Who Calms Storms
2006: Out of the Storm

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