Order-Disorder-Reorder 2021-6-20 Fr. Roberto
Homily for 12th Sunday + Father’s Day – Year B
Fr. Roberto Corral, OP
St. Dominic’s Church, Los Angeles, CA
June 20, 2021
Title: Order – Disorder – Reorder
Theme: God can use the storms we experience to help us reorder our lives, mature as human beings and grow in our faith.
Readings: Job 38:1, 8-11; 2 Corinthians 5:14-17; Mark 4:35-41
Several years ago, there was a man who went through a serious bout with cancer. He was married and had three children. As you can imagine, it was a difficult time for him and for his family. However, later, as he looked back on that experience, he had this to say:
“The cancer ended up being a blessing for me. Yes, it threw my life into chaos, robbed me of sleep, exhausted me and took a terrible toll on my physical and emotional health. It also put a tremendous strain on my family. But, it was a blessing, because it helped me put my life in perspective. Things that used to worry me, for example: how much money I made, the hassles at work, my wife’s annoying habits, and my children's squabbling were no longer as important. I woke each day and began to see and appreciate the miracle of simply being alive. Now I worry less about the future and live more in the present. The cancer helped me realize that I did not know if I would have a tomorrow; however, I did know I had today. I was not going to let it slip through my fingers as I had most of my life.”
This man’s powerful testimony of finding blessing even in the midst of difficulties is a great example of an essential process we all must go through if we want to mature as human beings as well as grow in our faith. That essential process is order – disorder – and reorder. So, for example, this man probably had a sense of order, a sense of security and control in his life where things were going along reasonably well for him.
But there was something missing in his life, and he did not even know it. The reality was that he was living a relatively superficial life.
Then, his cancer brought disorder and suffering into his life and his family for a period of time. But eventually, God used that experience to help him reorder his life and his priorities. Thus, in his life, order became disorder which led to reorder on a deeper level.
He reordered his life by letting go of his previous superficial sense of order, his previous understanding of who he was and what life was all about. And that helped him come to a fuller and richer life and a more mature faith. Order – disorder – reorder.
We can see this same process in our Gospel today. At first, Jesus and his disciples are sailing along in their boat just fine – everything is in “order,” as it should be…smooth sailing. But then an unexpected storm comes up, waves are breaking over the boat, and the disciples panic. This “disorder” of chaos and fear causes them to lose faith in Jesus and cry out in despair, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”. Finally, Jesus calms the storm, and, by doing so, he astounds them so much that he reorders their reality. Not only does he calm their fear, but he also invites them to a deeper place in their faith where they begin to question their original, limited understanding of Jesus,
and they ask themselves, “Who is this whom even wind and sea obey?
All of us go through this process of order – disorder – and reorder again and again in our lives. Like the disciples in the boat in today’s Gospel, we can be doing just fine and sailing along in calm waters. These are the periods in our lives when we are in a comfort zone, where we feel safe because our beliefs, our attitudes and our personal agenda are in order and in control and everything makes sense to us. But then, all of a sudden, we are hit by a violent storm like the pandemic, or problems in an important relationship, we have health issues, or we lose a loved one, our job or our home, etc.
We then enter into a time of “disorder” where our world is turned upside down, where our beliefs, our attitudes and our agenda are no longer working for us, and we have the feeling of being emotionally and spiritually tossed about. Then, perhaps worst of all, our prayers seem to go unanswered. Jesus seems to be “asleep,” uninterested or even absent, and we cry out: “Where are you Jesus; do you not care that I am perishing?”
How many times have you and I felt like that?
But then comes the moment of grace and the moment of decision for us when we have to choose how we will react to this disorder. Will we choose to flee from the disorder by denying it is happening, by escaping into alcohol, drugs, work or some other addiction, or by attacking and getting angry with whoever we think is responsible for the disorder, e.g., some other person, the other political party, life itself or even God? Will we choose those kinds of unhelpful and unhealthy responses, or will we choose to accept the disorder, learn from it and allow God to help us reorder our lives and take us to a deeper understanding of ourselves, of life and of God? That is what the man with cancer did when the Lord helped him to see the blessing in his sickness, reorder his priorities and come to a whole new and better place in his life. And, that is what the disciples in today’s Gospel did when they let Jesus challenge them, reorder their image of him and lead them into a deeper faith.
What I am saying today is that God has the power to use all things – especially the disordered and difficult storms of our lives – to help us mature as human beings as well as grow in our faith. Now, as I have said before, please understand that God does not cause those bad things to happen to us, he does not will them or use them to punish us.
But, he can use them to help us reorder our lives for the better.
Now, on this Father’s Day, I would like to say a few words to you fathers and father-figures who are here or watching online. First of all, I want to thank you for sacrificing yourselves so much to guide, protect, provide for and serve your families and others.
May God reward you for all your goodness and dedication. But I also want to challenge you men to understand this process of order, disorder and reorder because part of your role as father-figures is to be courageous men who can face the disorder and suffering of life head-on instead of running away from them or letting them make you angry and bitter. You must allow the sufferings of life to teach you patience, perseverance, wisdom and humility, and then pass that learning on to your children, your family and all those who look up to you. In other words, the challenge for you is to be a real man by learning how to surrender to the Lord and allowing him to mold you into being, not just a man, but a man of God. That is what a real man is.
My brothers and sisters, we all want life to be ordered, comfortable, secure and under our control; but life simply is not that way, and neither is our faith. Now, we don’t have to go around looking for disorder and suffering in our lives, but when they do come our way, we must choose to accept them, learn from them, and let God use them to help us to reorder our lives, to mature as human beings and to grow in our faith.
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