Curated homily anecdotes and with videos from Fr. Tony Kadavil related to Sunday’s readings; Also includes Fr. Tony’s commentary, and Children illustrations/object sermons.
12th Sunday of Year B
A tribute to the 29 men who died November 10, 1975, aboard the Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior. THe video features the song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot.
THE EDMUND FITZGERALD BURIED IN LAKE SUPERIOR
In 1976, the songwriter Gordon Lightfoot recorded a haunting ballad in honor of, and as a tribute to, a ship and its crew members who lost their lives. He called it “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”
The Edmund Fitzgerald was a giant ore-freighter, 729 feet in length. It was the largest carrier on the Great Lakes from 1958 until 1971. The Fitzgerald was labeled “the pride of the American Flag.”
On November 10, 1975, the Fitzgerald was hauling a heavy load of ore to Detroit, Michigan, when it ran into a severe storm. This storm generated 27-30-foot waves. During the evening hours the ship disappeared from radar screens; apparently it sank in a matter of minutes.
It now rests on the bottom of Lake Superior, broken in two with the bow upright and the stern upside down, still loaded with its cargo of ore and all 29 hands.
Today’s Gospel describes how Jesus saved the apostles from a possible wreck in the Sea of Galilee.
THE MAN WHO LIVED BY THE RIVER
West Wing, “The man who lived by the river” parable
The Mississippi River was flooding its banks, and the waters were rising swiftly around a man’s house. The waters had gotten to the level of the front porch where a man was standing when a man in a rowboat came by and called to the man, “Hop in and I’ll take you to high ground.”
The man replied, “No, Jesus who calmed the storm in the sea will save me from flood waters!”
The river continued to rise to the second story windows and Dorothy, looking out, saw a powerboat come up. A woman in the powerboat called to the man, “Hop in and I’ll take you to high ground.”
The man replied, “No, my Jesus will save me!”
The river had now risen to the roof of the house. The man was sitting on the ridge at the top of the house with the waters swirling around his feet. He saw a helicopter fly over, and the people inside yelled over a bull horn, “Grab the rope and climb in, and we’ll take you to high ground.”
The man replied, “No, Jesus will save me!”
The river continued to rise. Finally, the floodwaters engulfed the house and the man drowned. The next thing he knew, he was standing before Jesus.
In anger, he asked Jesus, “I put my trust in You. Why have you forsaken me?”
And to him Jesus replied, “What do you want from Me? I sent you a rowboat, a powerboat, and a helicopter!”
Today’s Gospel tells us that we have to act promptly, trusting in the power of Jesus and seeking his help as the apostles did.
THE STORMS OF LIFE AND FORREST GUMP’S BOX OF CHOCOLATES
I wonder if you have seen the film Forrest Gump. It’s a wonderful film about a young man with learning difficulties who happens to be a really profound and wise man. And Forrest Gump has some great catchphrases, the most famous of which, of course is “Mama always used to say. ‘Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.’”
And there is real truth in that, isn’t there? Life is so unpredictable that we don’t know what surprises lie in store for us from day to day, sometimes even from hour to hour…Good things in life take us by surprise and we celebrate those moments. But, sadly, negative and difficult times creep up on us and make an impact on our lives when we least expect them.
There are times in our lives when we feel at the mercy of the storm, when we feel as if our lives are as chaotic as the buffeting ocean. Perhaps there is a financial crisis, an illness, a bereavement, or a breakdown of relationship. And we pray and pray and pray but sometimes it as if Jesus is asleep. He doesn’t hear, no matter how loud we shout…
But we need to keep calling on the Lord in our most difficult times. Because, in our persistence, we believe that the Lord does hear us and will rebuke the storms, and the chaos of our lives will be stilled. The words of God to us in Isaiah 43 are so beautiful. He promises: “Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.”
A DEACON’S PRISON MINISTRY
Deacon Larry Hammel, a permanent deacon at St. Francis de Sales Church in Purcellville, coordinates prison ministry at the Loudoun Adult Detention Center and is a hospital chaplain at Loudoun Adult Medical and Psychiatry Services. “Jails, hospital, soup kitchens — that is how the church grows, not necessarily in numbers but in richness of faith,” he said.
Frank Kirchberg of Memphis retired a few years ago from the post of a sales executive with U.S. Air Lines. It was the end of an honorable career during which he had raised a fine family. But retirement gave him time to reflect on his life thus far. He had gone to Mass regularly and tried to do the good things and avoid the bad, but he realized he had not done all he might have “as a caring Christian and Catholic.”
“When you look at the record closely,” he told the editor of Common Sense, “you will find that a lot of your good Catholic upbringing might perhaps have been lying inert for many years inside, you waiting for this phase of your life to blossom.”
So what did he do? In the mid-1970s he enrolled in the corps of those preparing to be ordained permanent deacons in the diocese of Memphis. He could have signed up for a lesser service – Mass-server, lector or Eucharistic minister; but he preferred a greater commitment. The preparatory course gave him a different slant on life. After he was ordained to the diaconate in 1978, he was happy to be assigned to work with young lawbreakers committed to correctional institutions.
Experience in sales and as a parent helped him to get on the same wavelength as these youngsters, to whom he became a “father figure.” He has profited as much as they have.
“Through the diaconate experience,” he says, “I have been drawn closer to God through a stronger spiritual life, and it is to the point now where that spiritual life is the major emphasis in my thinking.”
When we reach a stage in life when we think we are finished, God often calls us to a second and even greater career. Be ready for such a call. Maybe St. Paul had you in mind when he wrote, “The old order has passed away; now all is new.” (2 Cor 5:17: today’s second reading). -Father Robert F. McNamara.
A FISHING TRIP IN A PERFECT STORM
Twenty-five years ago, the Perfect Storm devastated the coast of the Northeast. WBZ-TV’s (CBS BOSTON) Pamela Gardner reports.
October 1991, the Andrea Gail, a seventy-two-foot-long fishing boat, with a 365 horsepower turbo-charged diesel engine, left a New England port headed for the Atlantic Ocean. She was going on what was supposed to be another routine fishing trip. But it was to be her last voyage. Why? Because she ran into the most powerful and dangerous force on earth – a full-blown hurricane on the open seas.
The Andrea Gail had the misfortune of running into of all things the storm named Grace. It was a storm so powerful that it had the highest significant wave heights ever measured or calculated from 1899 to 1991: waves ten stories high. The winds were measured at 120 miles an hour.
2,000 years ago there occurred in the Sea of Galilee the first “perfect storm.” It was perfect for this reason: not because it was as violent, but it was far more important. Because this storm taught twelve disciples then, and hopefully will teach us today, how to navigate the ship of our life through the stormiest of seas.
THE EAGLE AND THE STORM
Do you know that an eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before it breaks? The eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring above it. The eagle does not escape the storm. It simply uses the storm to lift it higher. It rises on the winds that bring the storm.
When the storms of life come upon us, and all of us will experience them , we can rise above them by setting our minds and our belief on God. The storms do not have to overcome us. We can allow God’s power to lift us above them. God enables us to ride the winds of the storm that bring sickness, tragedy, failure, and disappointment into our lives. We can soar above the storm. We need to remember that it is not the burdens of life that weigh us down, but how we handle them. The Bible says, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles” (Is 40:31).
ALLIGATOR IN THE POND
A family in Alabama are celebrating after catching the largest alligator (1000 lbs) ever recorded in the state
The Jones family moved to a new house in south Florida near a pond. There were two other houses on the pond, one owned by a doctor. One day, shortly after they moved in, the Jones’ three children went swimming in the pond. Suddenly, out of nowhere a four-hundred-pound alligator appeared (fortunately, it was not the 1,000 lb. one in the above video!).
The doctor happened to be out and saw the alligator. He yelled to the children. Two of them heard the cry and headed for shore. The third child, Mike, was under the water using his diving gear to look beneath the surface. The other two children got near the shore, looked back, and saw the alligator bearing down like a torpedo on their brother. One of them started back to warn Mike, but it was too late. The alligator was upon the boy.
He was about to swallow him whole, but when the alligator chomped down on the boy’s head, he found the diving gear distasteful and spit him out. Now Mike swam as fast as he could underwater toward the shore. The alligator swam round and round in circles trying to find the boy. When Mike surfaced, the alligator located him and headed toward him again.
Mike was about twenty feet from shore when the alligator caught him, this time by the feet. By this time, Mike’s mother, who was on shore, had waded out to where the boy was. She grabbed his extended hands and started to pull. It was a four-hundred-pound alligator pulling in one direction and a one-hundred-pound mother pulling in the other. The flippers which were distasteful to the alligator caused him to let go. The mother won the tug of war.
Today, Mike’s only evidence of the horrifying event is scars on his head and feet from the alligator bites and scars on his wrists where his mother’s nails had dug in when she pulled him to safety. Life seemed good to the Joneses.
The family had moved to a new home. The children went swimming in a pond. Then wham, slam — a monster appeared on the scene. How can this happen? How can life be so good one moment and so filled with horror the next? Yet it happens and we feel that we cannot handle it. Sometimes tragedy strikes suddenly, and we feel abandoned and unable to handle what life brings us. God is there, but we do not feel His presence at the time.
ARMENIAN EARTHQUAKE FATHER
A story about the the father of Armand who was lost under rubble in the 1988 Spitak Earthquake in Armenia. The story was read from the book A Father Who Keeps His Promises by Dr. Scott Hahn.
The 1989 Armenian earthquake needed only four minutes to flatten that nation and kill 30,000 people. Moments after that earthquake had stopped, a father raced to an elementary school to save his son. When he arrived, he saw the building had been leveled.
Looking at that mass of stones and rubble, his heart sank until he remembered a promise he had made to his little boy, “No matter what happens, I’ll always be there for you.”
Driven by that promise he found the area closest to his son’s room and began to pull back the rocks and dig out the dirt. Other parents arrived and began sobbing for their children. They were saying things like, “It’s too late. You know they’re dead. You can’t help.” Even a police officer encouraged him to give up.
But that dad refused. For eight hours, then sixteen, then thirty-two, and then thirty-six hours he dug. His hands were raw, his energy was gone, but he refused to quit. Finally, after thirty-eight gut-wrenching hours, he pulled back a boulder and heard his son’s voice.
He called out his boy’s name, “Arman! Arman!”
A voice answered him saying, “Dad, it’s me!”
Then that little boy added priceless words that dad will remember to the day he dies: “Dad, I told the other kids not to worry. I told them if you were alive you would save me, and that when you saved me they would be saved too. Because you promised Dad, ‘No matter what, son, I’ll always be there for you.’” [Jack Canfield and Mark Hanson, Chicken Soup for the Soul, (Deerfield Beach, Florida: Health Communications, 1993), pp. 273-274.]
How much more should we remember the promise of Jesus! How much more should we rest in the presence of Jesus, and how much more shall we rely on the power of Jesus knowing when He says we’ll cross over, we will make it to the other side!
THE KARATE KID
This is one of the most inspiring parts of the movie where Mr. Miyagi conditions Daniel for defensive karate without his fore knowledge of it. Very cool how they wrote this in an performed it very well. (VIEWER ADVISORY: LANGUAGE)
One of my favorite movies is The Karate Kid. It is about a teenager who feels alone and unprotected in the hostile environment of his school and community. He is scared – unable to defend himself against the hoodlums of his neighborhood. It happens that the lad, whose name is Daniel, meets an old man, Mr. Meogi, who has a black belt in Karate. The old man agrees that he will teach him what he knows so that Daniel can protect himself.
On the first day of his lessons the old man asks Daniel to wax and polish several old cars that he owns – wax on – wax off. All day the lad labors to follow these instructions – Wax on – Wax off. On the second day the old man asks the boy to paint his fence — paint up – paint down. Again it takes all day. On the third day the master asked him to sand the wooden floor of his verandah – in a circular fashion – and again it takes all day.
At the end of the third day the boy is very angry – “I’ve done all this work for you,” he says, “and you still haven’t taught me anything to defend myself.”
At this point the master tells Daniel to stand in front of him and do the motion for wax on – wax off. As he does this, the master tries to hit him – but his blows are deflected by the boy’s arms. The boy’s work for Mr. Meogi – his obedience – has made him ready for his first lesson in how to face danger. It has prepared him for the lessons, and the dangers, to follow.
In the course of our lives there are many things that arise and frighten us. There are giants who are hostile to us and all that we hold dear. There are storms that threaten to overwhelm us. Today’s Gospel about Jesus’ calming the storm reminds us that a firm conviction of the living presence of Jesus in our lives and a dynamic relationship with him by prayer – listening to Him and talking to Him – will save us from the unexpected storms of our lives. (Rev. Richard Fairchild).
View More Homily Starter Anecdotes compiled by Fr. Tony
12th Sunday of Year B
THE ROLE OF GOD IN CALMING THE STORMS OF LIFE
The first reading tells us how the Lord speaks to Job whose life was devastated by storms of the total loss of his possessions, the deaths of his dear ones, and a whole-body disease that left him in misery. “Out of the storm,” God reminds Job that He is in control.
Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 107) picks up the storm theme and tells us how the Lord saves the sailors caught up in the high waves of a tempest by first “raising up a storm wind,” then “hushing the storm to a gentle breeze.” “They who sailed the sea in ships … saw the works of the Lord and His wonders in the abyss.”
The second reading explains that Jesus died for us to make us a “new creation.” In order to receive Jesus’ gift of love, we have to respond with our loving self-surrender, living for Jesus in all situations of our lives. In other words, Paul celebrates the saving significance of the Paschal mystery – Jesus’ life, death, and Resurrection. – and of our participation in it.
Today’s Gospel describes how, by a commanding word, Jesus stilled a storm on the Sea of Galilee, returned the sea to its natural order and saved the apostles from drowning. The incident reminds us to keep Jesus in our life’s boat and to seek Jesus’ help in the storms of life.