For the Twelfth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year
2 Corinthians 5:14-17
Today, in the Gospel, we see Christ as God dominating the might of nature.
His power and authority as God still comes into our lives in many ways, some very small and ordinary, some great and mysterious.
In the end, the drama of Christ the Lord will usher in eternal glory for heaven and earth and God’s children.
Several times in the historical saga of ancient Israel, the Lord intervened in the workings of nature.
Generations before Christ, the entire race of the Chosen People twice passed alive through bodies of water with the protection of the Lord.
First, the Lord split open the Red Sea so that the whole race of Israel could pass through it to escape the slave-driving army of Egypt.
As soon as the Chosen People crossed over, the Lord closed up the waters to smother the legions of Pharaoh.
Forty years after that, the Lord God made the Jordan River run backwards so that the whole Chosen Race of Israel could cross over into the land God had promised them.
Every year, on the feast of Passover, and nearly every day in praying the Psalms, the Chosen People still relive and celebrate the power of God that split open the Red Sea, drowned the slave-driving army of Egypt, and made the Jordan River run backwards.
Today in his Gospel, Christ the Lord leads his own chosen people across another sea.
To save them from the raging, wind-driven waves, Christ the Lord stands up to the impersonal, heaving powers of nature, and commands them into silence and calm.
Seeing that, the disciples asked, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”
Christ, who is the Word of God, could have answered by repeating the Word of God that the Book of Job recalled for us today.
The Lord [spoke] out of the storm and said:
Who shut within doors the sea,
when it burst forth from the womb;
when I made the clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling bands?
When I set limits for it
and fastened the bar of its door,
Thus far shall you come but no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stilled!
Christ who commands the obedience of wind and sea is the Lord God.
After Christ and his disciples, his new “chosen people”, cross the sea safely, Christ meets up with a man whom demons have enslaved.
Speaking as one, the enslaving demons say, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”
Christ the Lord, having just saved his disciples from the sea, drowns the legion of slave-driving demons in the same sea, just as God had done to the Egyptian legions to rescue his chosen people from slavery.
What we see in the Gospel today is the first of two, back-to-back water miracles.
First, Christ saved his chosen disciples from a deadly, stormy sea.
Second— afterwards— he drowns an army of enslaving demons in that same sea.
To this day, the Church, the disciples of Christ, the new chosen people, sing of Christ what the people of Israel sang on the shores of the Red Sea after God ushered them safely across the bottom of the sea and drowned their slave-drivers in it.
I will sing to the Lord,
for he has gloriously triumphed….
The Lord is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God,
and I will praise him….
The Church uses that song at Easter, celebrating the resurrection of Christ from the sea of death.
The Church prays and preaches those words at Baptism— Baptism by which God draws us through the water of Christ’s death and resurrection, entitling us to freedom from sin and death as his chosen people, his sons and daughters.
For forty years, ancient Israel ate manna from the hand of God.
Now, God in Christ gives us his own flesh and blood as food and drink.
In the Mystery of the Eucharist of Christ, we are the heirs of Israel’s song at the Red Sea.
Who is like you, O Lord?
Who is like you,
majestic in holiness,
In your steadfast love,
you have led the people whom you have redeemed;
by your strength,
you have guided them to your holy dwelling.
In our own lives, we may at times wish that God Almighty would wake up inside our tiny boat, and tell our storms and high seas to shut up and lie still.
We may at times wish that God Almighty would making flooding rivers of trouble run backwards for us.
We may at times wish that God Almighty would split open for us the swamping, red-as-blood sea of tragedy, and let us walk dry-shod over the bed of the ocean.
In his sacraments and in his grace, God has already done all of that for us.
That is, he has not BANISHED reality.
Rather, he has OPENED the way through reality and to reality.
We are the ones who may hesitate to walk through the openings that God has already made.
He has already opened the way to heaven for us by splitting open the sea of sin and death through the cross and resurrection of Christ.
God has opened.
It belongs to us to travel through.
The letter of St. Paul today calls up our courage for travel.
The love of Christ impels us,
once we have come to the conviction that one died for all;
therefore, all have died.
He indeed died for all,
so that those who live might no longer live for themselves
but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
In the Eucharist, we eat and drink newness in the risen body and blood of Christ.
In the new Manna that is the Real Body and Blood of Christ, we eat and drink the end of the journey where God himself is the Promise Land.
The highway of grace is already completely open.
Do we choose to take it?