#Perspective is the reflection for June 21, 2015. What exactly do you need to see Jesus for who he is? How much storm in life must you face? From where you sit, Jesus could be many things, but what does this passage of Scripture say about who Jesus Christ is? Find out in “Perspective”, the podcast for this week. Available on itunes and android. #MSAWordfortheDay #MySpiritualAdvisor #Sermon #Homily #Perspective #YouveGotMail #MegRyan #TomHanks #TravisBradburry #JesusIsGod
For My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 6/21/2015 The 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Mark 4:35-41.
It is all a matter of perspective, isn’t it? When a company downsizes, the shareholders get a boost because it eliminates the “expense” of salaries. When a company downsizes, the people downsized have their lives upended. When Tom Hank’s character in the movie “You’ve Got Mail” forces the book store owned by Meg Ryan’s character out of business, he stops by her home to tell her that even though she is out of a job, it isn’t personal, it is business. Perspective can change a lot for us.
When we lose a job and are in our fifties, the age mark which I achieved last week, finding employment can be very difficult. Many of the people I know who lost their jobs in the 2009 depression who were over 50 have never found steady work again. Some of those who were over 50 decided to just go out on their own because it was their only opportunity. Many of them were forced to make their hobbies their employment, only to find that they liked their boss much better and could live with the lower wages because they loved what they did for a living, for once.
What Hanks doesn’t understand in the story, is that his “it isn’t personal” comes from a position of security and financial safety. For Meg Ryan, it is deeply personal because the insecurity of no longer owning her own store, having to work for someone else, probably taking less money that she would have earned before; all of these things impact her daily existence. It cannot be anything but personal because of all the changes she will have to make and accept if things do not go well. Those who face such insecurity are those who can fall into depression and lose hope. Perspective is everything.
When we apply this kind of thinking to the passage from Mark’s Gospel today, there are many things we can derive from perspective. First, we can get the idea that this trip was part of a larger agenda for Jesus. He was crisscrossing this lake often. He was bouncing back and forth between Jewish territory and Gentile territory. Even though he came for the “Jew first,” we can get the idea that Jesus came for all people from the perspective of geography.
Second, this must have been some incredible storm. For fishermen to be scared of a storm out on the lake means that the storm must have been something that was not experience often. For them, humans who would have their lives altered, to which they would have to face life differently, struggling to survive, a personal fear is understandable.
Perspective would tell us, then, from his reaction, that Jesus was not too concerned with storms. He was sleeping on a cushion as the boat was tossed to fro. Calm and cool as the other side of the pillow. Who does that? Who stays calm in the midst of terrifying situations? Usually it is people who have reason to be calm. Just like Tom Hanks in the clip, who is unaffected, by the situation, Jesus is not impacted by the storm because he can control it. He is more than just a magician who does tricks, or a person who levitates like the pagans do by summoning the evil spirits.
Jesus reveals that he is the Son of God, God himself, who is with them. As in most pressure packed situations, situations of desperation, there can be some shouting going on, “Do you not care that we are perishing?!” the disciples shout at Jesus. “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Jesus barks back.
Travis Bradburry, an expert on emotional intelligence in the corporate world, wrote an article in Forbes on Feb. 6, 2014 about “How Successful People Stay Calm”. In it, among the several things he lists, he states that staying positive and disconnecting are two important skills to have. Not so incidentally, these are two keys to the spiritual life as outlined by the Desert Fathers and Mothers. Both of these are called by one name, “Detachment”. It is a spiritual discipline, this “detachment”. Detachment makes us realize that what is happening to us has a greater context than just our personal lives. Detachment is taking a break from the existential realities of a situation and separating ourselves from them.
What Mr. Bradburry and the Desert Fathers and Mothers know is that when we can separate ourselves from our emotions, we can see how they go up and down and sideways. They are not consistent. So, when we can rise above our own selves and look down from on high, we can see ourselves and then begin to minister to ourselves. We, step outside ourselves to a place that is beyond the hurtfulness of the world. Where is that place? That place is called God.
Jesus is able to stay calm because he knows he is God. The wind and the waves are under his control and he will reverse, undo, restore anything that happens. If the disciples understood who he is, believed it, and appropriated its power in their own lives, they would be able to be sleeping in the boat, too. Perspective comes from our reality which we then apply to any situation.
We can be without money. We can be without a job. We can be in the midst of persecution for what we are pointing out to a sinful world. We can have the worst of days. Yet, our perspective is driven by the fact that those of us who have been baptized have been taken into Christ. We have his reality. He is in control of the situation, no matter how many bad things come our way. If it means that we have to die to experience heaven, that is a much better existence. If we have to go through some really rough times, then we know it doesn’t define us or make us any less “successful” (whatever that means) than anyone else.
I have told you the story before about a person to whom I was a youth director who went to a university and “bombed out”. What she found out was simply that that place wasn’t good for her, not that she wasn’t good for it. So, instead of becoming an electrical engineer or something like that, she became a librarian at the collegiate level. It is an occupation that much more suited her and she is much happier than she would have ever been. When we see life as God placing opportunity after opportunity in front of us instead of believing the lies of the devil who accuses us of inadequacy all the time, our perspective changes everything and we can handle it.
If Jesus is just a man who can do great things, then he can only capriciously help you. If Jesus is God who allows the storm to come because he knows he can handle it, then no matter what happens in the storm, there is something better for you on the other side. So, who are you? Are you a part of Jesus through your baptism, or are you just a member of the club called the Church? The first will change your perspective of everything, the second, not so much. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2015.