The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Readings: I Samuel 17: 1a, 4-11, 19-23, 32-49; Psalm 9: 9-20; II Corinthians 6: 1-13; Mark 4: 35-41
To honor my father, I thought I would bring along some of his tools. They also help us focus on the readings for today. I have a hammer, a saw, a screwdriver, and a level. First, the hammer, someone once said to me that “if you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. A hammer can pound nails in, as this is a claw hammer, it can also pull nails out. That is it. Second, a wood saw, I can remember my father instructing me when sawing to “let the saw do the work” rather than pushing or pulling too hard. Saws are for cutting, although some very talented musicians can “play the saw”. Third, a screwdriver, like a hammer, can only do one thing, once put on a screw, it turns. In addition, this screwdriver will only work for a slotted screw, not all, some screws need a Phillips, and some need an allen wrench. Fourth, a level, I use this every spring when I put in the stakes for our tomato plants. However, this also has inch markings along the edge, which makes it a multi-function tool.
A skilled carpenter has all four of these tools, plus many more, and can use them for their intended purpose. This leads me to the young shepherd boy, David, from our first reading. The young David was tasked by this father to tend the sheep, leading them to green pastures and to still waters. He also learned to use a slingshot and stones to defend the sheep. Therefore, David, when confronted by the bully Goliath, the Philistine, David turned to what he knew and planted a stone in Goliath’s forehead. End of bullying. Later we know David developed into a fierce warrior and a leader of men in war and in peace. Tradition holds that David was also the composer of numerous psalms, like the twenty-third psalm. Perhaps David, as a shepherd, sang these psalms at night to calm the sheep.
David offered his gifts to cooperate with God’s will. The question for us that is presented by today’s readings is, “What is in our toolbox”? What are our gifts, and how do we offer them to God? How do we cooperate with God’s direction, with God’s will? What is our skillset and how do we offer them as servants of God?
Of course, when we offer them there is always an element of concern, perhaps even fear when we put ourselves out there when we put our gifts and ourselves on the line. At such times we are sometimes like the disciples in the boat with Jesus, crossing the Sea of Galilee caught in the midst of a storm. Some scholars note that the boat is often a symbol for the Church. In this passage the Church is riding the waves in difficult times, stormy times. Even though Jesus is among them, even with the fishermen by trade, Peter, James, Andrew, and John among them, panic set in. I wonder when Jesus spoke, “Peace! Be still!”, was he speaking to the waves at sea only, or was he also speaking to the disciples panicking in the boat? “Peace! Be still!” Perhaps he was speaking to both, the waves and the fearful within the boat, within the Church.
I think those words are also for us in our current times, in stormy times. Jesus assures us with “Peace! Be still!” As St. Paul assured the small congregation in ancient Corinth, we possess all the tools we need, we “possess everything”. We have all the soul’s essentials. Have no fear. Jesus is in the boat with us. Be at Peace; Be still within your soul.
Let us continue to serve the Lord with the gifts, with the gifts we have in our toolbox.
In the words of Julian of Norwich, England, a 14th century Christian mystic:
“All shall be well; and all manner of thing shall be well”.