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Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: June 20, 2021
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor preached the following homily at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock on Saturday, June 19, 2021, and Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Lincoln on Sunday, June 20, 2021.
Most of us probably have a few secrets that we reveal only to God or those who are very close to us. Maybe you committed some grave sin in your past. You've brought it to the Lord in confession and that's where it needs to stay. It no longer reflects who you really are today.
But not all secrets are about sin. Maybe it is something quite honorable that people who have never been there just would not understand. For instance, my grandfather never actually told his Jewish parents that he had become a Catholic. They didn't ask and he didn't tell. They could never have understood. It would have only caused them pain. He was not rejecting them, but that's what it would have felt like. So he kept it secret.
The technical name for the main part of a Church building is the "nave," meaning the "boat," the same as our word, "Navy." As you can see, we're all in this boat together and we face the storms of life together. No matter how fiercely the winds blow, we're safe because we've got Jesus on board.
But sometimes there does come a point when secrets can and should be shared. Once people move beyond the usual inaccurate preconceived notions and start asking the right questions, you can then reveal the secret because you know they will understand.
In today's Gospel, Jesus has a secret which he's having a hard time sharing even with his closet friends. The secret is that he is the Messiah. The problem is that due to inaccurate preconceived notions, none of them is in a position really to understand. If he says "I'm the Messiah," they'll wrongly expect him to take up arms and lead a military revolt.
They'll expect him to re-establish the Davidic monarchy with himself sitting on the royal throne. They'll think of glory and so fail to understand the cross; they'll think of him as simply human and so fail to understand that he also is God. So for now he keeps it secret, especially in the Gospel of Mark.
What Jesus does is try to get his disciples to start rethinking their preconceived notions. He begins working miracles; this will get them to start asking the right questions. He cures people and expels demons: now they know he has special powers. Then he declares that the sins of a paralytic are forgiven: something that only God can do.
In today's Gospel he calms the storm: Jesus has power even over the forces of nature. And now for the first time in the Gospels, the disciples ask the right question: "Who can this be that the wind and the sea obey him?" It'll be a few more chapters before they discover the complete answer, but already they're on the right track.
You and I are just like the people in the Bible in that we also have inaccurate preconceived notions. It is easy for us to see truths to which previous generations were blind: think of the Crusades or the Inquisition or slavery. But it's hard to see the truths to which we ourselves are blind. That's why we call it blindness. It remains secret, hidden. We don't get it yet.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Jesus wants to reveal his secrets. He wants us to understand. And so time and again he tries to get us to start asking the right questions. If you've ever been seriously ill or badly injured, I'll bet that experience caused you to rethink a few of your preconceived notions. If you've ever been set free from the shackles of the guilt of a grave sin, you now experience the kind of freedom that only God can give.
If you've ever come safely through a storm — whether a natural disaster or a human disaster (for instance, a painful divorce) and found tranquility on the other side, you may have encountered the same Jesus who calmed the storm in today's Gospel. "Who can this be that the wind and the sea obey him?" There may be still a few more chapters before we discover the complete answer, but already we're on the right track.
The technical name for the main part of a Church building is the "nave," meaning the "boat," the same as our word, "Navy." As you can see, we're all in this boat together and we face the storms of life together. No matter how fiercely the winds blow, we're safe because we've got Jesus on board. "Who can this be that the winds and the sea obey him?"