20 June, Sunday — Active and Passive Faith

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Job 38:1,8-11
2 Cor 5:14-17
Mk 4:35-41                                                                                                   

“Why are you so frightened?”

I am intrigued by the sport of American football. I remember the first time I learned about it, when my friend, Joe, explained the rules. The game is divided into two portions — offence, and defence. When one is playing offence, one’s offensive team tries to move the ball 10 yards (about 3.30 metres, for those of us metric-minded). There is an interesting role called the Quarterback, who first handles the ball before deciding where to move the ball. The Quarterback is protected by his Offensive line, who pre-emptively blocks the opposition defence, who are trying to get to the Quarterback. On the occasions that the opposing side manages to get to the Quarterback, he is sacked.

A large part of this game is the trust that the Quarterback needs to have on his offensive line. If a particular strategy does not work as well, and the opponents break through, the Quarterback, with his offensive line, will run together as a pack and try to move the ball together. Often, the flow of the game would require both the Quarterback and the line to run straight into the oncoming opponent.

If we think of today’s Gospel in American football terms, it would seem that Jesus is seen as the Offensive line, where His role is to defend His disciples from being sacked. When there seems to be a risk of a sack, the disciples look around and ask, “Where are You, and why are you not protecting me”? The disciples expect Jesus to be the ultimate defensive line, who is expected to totally clear out the path. In essence, the disciples expect Jesus to eliminate the storm from the very start of their journey.

Like the disciples, I am guilty of expecting that Jesus will clear the path for me in every aspect of my life; no problems, everything smooth, all good!  

When I reflect on it, this attitude towards our faith can be seen as a passive faith, where I expect things to be handed to me, all spick-and-span. Yes, there are times when my path is clear. Yet, that is not what happens most of the time. We are required to play an active role in our lives and our faith journey. Together with Jesus as my offensive line, we run together. With His support and His blocking of my opponents, we are able to carry the ball across the line. Other times though, I need to hand my ball over to Him, to have Him carry this ball for me.

Whether the ball is carried by me, or by Him, our team wins.

And what happens if I get sacked? Well, I get to try again. I dust myself off the ground and confer with my offensive line, and we restart the play. Our faith is not meant to be passive, where we expect everything to be done for us. Instead, we are called to play an active role, together with Jesus. Together, we can weather our personal storms!

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We ask you Father, to help us understand our roles in our lives and in our journey of faith. Help us to trust in You completely.

Thanksgiving: We are grateful for Your love and for the many times You have defended us in our times of need. Thank You Father, for always supporting us.

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