Things We Can't Control
Opening Question: What does the end of school mean for you?
First Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:14-17
The love of Christ ties us together with this one thought. Jesus died for everyone, so everyone has died. He died for everyone, so those who are alive won't live for themselves. They will live for Jesus, who died and rose for them.
From now on, we shouldn't get to know and judge others the way we usually do. Someone might have known Christ before he died. But the way we know him is different now. If we are with the risen Christ, we are new people. Old things have gone away; everything is new!
The last day at school. It was finally here. Fred could hardly wait. The smile on his face showed the way he felt.
He fidgeted in his chair and watched the clock slowly toward noon. Eleven thirty five. Come on, clock, speed up. Then, he felt a tap on his arm. Johnny slipped Fred a note. "I'll miss playing with you." It was all the note said.
Fred turned back to Johnny. Johnny's trademark twinkle in his eye and ready smile had been replaced with a dogged expression. Fred moved his mouth to make the words "What's wrong?"
Johnny replied by moving his mouth. "I'm moving."
Out of the corner of his eye, Fred saw the teacher turn in his direction, so he turned around and pretended to look over his work. His expression changed to sadness. One of his best friends at school would be leaving.
The noon bell rang. "Have a good summer," the teacher said. "For the last time, class dismissed." A cheer went up in the class room. Everyone made their way to the door, everyone except Fred and Johnny.
Fred turned to John and asked the question that had burned in him for the last twenty five minutes. "What happened?"
"My dad came home last night and told us we were moving cross country. He got a promotion at work." Johnny looked up at his friend. "When I told my dad I wasn't happy about it, when I told him I'd miss my friends, all he said was "Things change.' Yeah, things change."
Fred put on a smile for his friend. "Can you come over to my house today? I'll show you my new video game. We can play against each other over the internet no matter where you live, you know."
Johnny returned the smile. "True," he said. "That's true."
Things change. The old stuff goes away. New stuff comes our way. Old friends move out of our lives. We make new friends. It's the same with Jesus. He died and his old way of life died too. But he rose from the dead to a new life that wants to share with everyone. When we say "Yes" to Jesus, our lives might change. We will be a little less selfish. We will focus on others a little more. We might not see the change, but it is happening. Our old selfish selves will die a little. They will be replaced with a new life with Jesus.
Things change. That's the way God wants it to happen for us.
Bridging Question: When was the last time you were at the beach, or went on a boat ride? Was it fun or not? Why?
Gospel: Mark 4:35-41
One evening, Jesus told his followers, "Lets go to the other side of Lake Galilee."
Leaving the crowds behind, they sailed along with Jesus. Other boats accompanied them. Suddenly, a strong wind began to blow into a squall. The waves crashed against the boat and spilled inside. The boat quickly filled up with water. With his head on a cushion, Jesus was fast asleep in the stern. They woke Jesus up and complained, "Don't you care we're about to die?"
Now that he was awake, Jesus shouted at the wind, "Be silent!"
The wind stopped. There was a great calm on the lake.
Jesus turned to his followers. "Why were you so afraid? Why didn't you have faith?"
They were in awe of Jesus. "Who is this that wind and lake obey him?" they said to each other.
Zoe laid on the sand and felt the sun beat down. She loved summer days at the beach. No more school, no more responsibilities. She could close her eyes, let her mind drift away, and ignore everyone for a while. This felt really good after a long swim with her cousin.
Zoe imagined fairies and dragons in a castle where she was the magic princess. The breeze shift over the sand and the temperature dropped a few degrees. She opened her eyes to see the haze over the water grew thicker. It changed from white-blue to a gray. The breeze from the water was cooler. "Mom, do you have another towel. I cold." She could feel the goose-bumps on her arms.
"Put your shirt on instead," her mother said. She threw Zoe a long sleeved shirt.
Zoe put her arms through the sleeves and pulled the shirt over her head. She ran her hand over her right leg. More goose bumps. She wrapped her towel around her legs for just a moment. "Mom, can you give me my jeans?"
"Are you getting colder?" her mother said.
Zoe took the jeans from her mother and pulled them on. She stood and wiped the sand off her clothes. She looked out over the water again. The gray haze turned into a wall of dull tint. The marine layer formed over the water and would soon be on the beach. Zoe sighed. She wouldn't see the beautiful sunset she remembered from last year's beach trip. The scent of cooking food caught Zoe's attention.
"When will dinner be ready, Mom?" she said.
"Go ask your Dad."
Zoe ran over to her father. She saw him turning hamburgers on the grill.
"Smells good, Dad."
"Go get yourself a bun, sweetie. Your hamburger is just about done."
Zoe got a plate, put the bun on it, and loaded one side of the bun with lettuce, tomato, catchup and relish. No onions or mustard for this girl. She returned to the grill.
"There you go," her father said. He set the burger on her plate.
Zoe closed the bun and took a bite. Ah, there was nothing like a hamburger on a summer day at the beach.
The wind picked up and blew sand onto Zoe's plate. She tried to protect her dinner with her free hand. Over her hand, she saw the marine layer had covered the beach. The temperature dropped. The on-shore breeze grew stiffer and colder. A drizzly evening replaced a warm day in the hazy sun.
Zoe shivered. She made her way to the car and got inside. After two more bites of her hamburger, she noticed water droplets form on the windshield. She looked out to the life guard tower. The flag at the tower flapped stiffly in the wind.
The door to the car opened. "Are you all right?" her mother said. Her mother carried a box of beach toys and a bag of towels. "We'll get going in a moment, dear." Her mother closed the door to the car and went back for more.
The day at the beach had been cut short by the weather. Too bad. Zoe closed her eyes and day dreamed about the magic castle. At least Zoe could control the weather in her imagination.
A day by the water had been changed by the weather. An evening on the water almost turned into a disaster by the weather. The wind made Zoe cold. The wind almost capsized the boat the followers of Jesus traveled in.
No one has control over the weather, except God. When the followers of Jesus were threatened by the weather, they panicked. "Help us, Jesus," they pleaded, "Help us." Jesus did. He calmed the water and the storm disappeared.
"What's the matter?" Jesus said to them. "Don't you trust me?"
They were in awe of Jesus. He had the power of God, even over the weather!
There are certain things we can't control. Like the weather, we have to live with them. Sometimes these things don't bother us. Sometimes these things threaten us. No matter. All we can do is pray to Jesus and trust him. He is God. He is in charge. He cares for us, so we don't have to be afraid. With Jesus, everything will be all right.
Reflection Question: When are you afraid? How can Jesus help you in those times of fear?