Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time Franciscan Gospel Reflection

Sister JulieAnn Sheahan

June 19, 2024

Franciscan Friar Fr. Paul Gallagher reflects on the Gospel readings for the Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time. Have you ever felt like you were being tossed about by situations that were much bigger than yourself?

The content is edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here Franciscan Gospel Reflection June 23 2024. Excerpts are from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Photos: Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity (Mary and Jesus as a child at the edge of a stormy sea painting by Sister M. Benjamin 1919, Stained glass window in St. Mary Chapel, Holy Family Convent) 

Mark 4:35-41

On that day, as evening drew on, he said to them, “Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”


Many people will hear this Gospel as a miracle story. It can also be thought of in terms of a healing or exorcism. Instead of Jesus releasing a person from the evil of sickness or a demon, here Jesus takes control of the evil power of a violent sea to restore peace. In addition, those for whom Mark was writing would have understood this story as a kind of demonstration of Jesus’ power to control the chaos in the natural world.

The apostles are significant in this text. From their youth, boys of Jesus’ time were trained to face danger bravely. Any expression of fear, especially in public, brought shame upon oneself and one’s family. The apostles must have been in a dire situation to abandon their composure and turn to Jesus for help. Jesus is portrayed as being in total control. He confronts the dangerous power of nature and chaos.

The disciples respond to Jesus differently as the text unfolds. At first, they act as caretakers and protectors, providing him a place of solitude and rest after a long day of being with the crowds. As the storm overpowers them and the boat takes on water, they call him teacher and seek his help. After he rebukes the wind and calms the sea, they are in awe of him. He has not called upon God to act but he has directly confronted the wind and the sea. “Who is this that even wind and sea obey?”

For Mark’s community the questions asked at the end of the text are pivotal “Why are you terrified? Do you not have faith?” Their faith should give the disciples the ability to face fear and to act, trusting in the power of God to confront evil. The question that the disciples ask is also real. “Who is this whom even wind and sea obey?” The question may not be so much about Jesus but about their ability to trust in Jesus as they faced the challenges of being Christians in a world that was hostile to their belief in Jesus as Messiah. The text also reveals how God in the person of Jesus responds when faith does not seem strong enough in threatening situations.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What is your experience of stormy seas?
  2. Have you ever felt like you were being tossed about by situations that were much bigger than yourself?
  3. Do you recall other stories where the powers of chaos were represented by storms and turbulent seas?
  4. As the text unfolds the disciples respond to Jesus differently. How would you characterize your response to Jesus at present?
  5. Mark says the disciples took Jesus on the boat just as he was. What does that phrase “just as he was” suggest to you?
  6. The Gospel text ends with the question, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” How do you answer?
  7. Can you take some time to talk to God about the chaos that you experience or your own awareness of your own lack of faith? Try to talk honestly to God who was present to these disciples just as he was.

Article Comments:

Fr. Placid Stroik, OFM 06/23/2024 @ 9:51 am

Tossed no more. just flowing on the waves; grateful for the Spirit who blows me where the Spirit wills (blows).


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