Sunday Scriptures

You’ll Never Walk Alone

By Msgr. Joseph P. Calise

ONE OF THE most important tools of the spiritual life is a spiritual director. As an old saying goes, “we all need somebody to talk to.”

One day, I was speaking with one of the Passionist priests at the Bishop Molloy Retreat House in Jamaica Estates about something that was bothering me when he pointed out a plaque on his wall (which, because of his generosity, is now on mine) that read, “Before you go to bed tonight, give your troubles to God. He plans to be up all night anyway.”

The message was simple: Even when life feels somewhat turbulent, God is in charge and, as long as I rely on His grace, all will be well – not necessarily easy and smooth but well. As a matter of fact, right now I cannot even remember what was so troubling that day.

In today’s Gospel, the Apostles are frightened by a storm. They want Jesus to do something to keep them safe so they wake Him up with the question: “Don’t you care that we are perishing?”

Rebuking the storm, He calms the winds and sea, then turns to the disciples and asks: “Do you not yet have faith?”

Faith does not teach us that we will never have difficult moments, but that with Christ’s grace, we will get through them. Over a score ago, I preached a Father’s Day homily (appropriate enough to remember it today – Happy Father’s Day to all who are celebrating!), in which I made mention that many people of my generation will talk about what it was like when we were kids.

We talk about how we did not have a lot of modern conveniences and often had to save and sacrifice for a trip to the movies or an extra piece of candy, because in those days, they were considered luxuries.

We can reminisce about how that mentality helped form us into the men and women we are today – how we learned a value system and a respect for work. Yet, those same people will try to prevent their children from having to make the same sacrifices – inadvertently denying them the same lessons.

I don’t remember this homily because I was so profound, but because of the reaction of a father in the congregation. He was going through that scenario at home and thanked me for giving him the vocabulary he needed. His sons wanted something from him that he thought they should have been capable of earning on their own. Part of him wanted to be the kind daddy providing for his children, but he also wanted to be the loving father who helped them grow and mature. He would never abandon them, but it was time for them to pilot the boat while he remained astern.

By the time of the storm in today’s Gospel, Jesus had already worked many miracles in the presence of the Apostles and taught them that the growth of the Church depended on their being ready to spread the word. As they will see, that mission pleases some and angers others; it leads to Palm Sunday and Good Friday. But the promise of Easter and Pentecost is that we never have to face either alone.

One of my most vivid childhood memories is watching The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon for the benefit of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. I would be entranced by the television for a literal day as celebrity after celebrity lent his or her support to this worthy cause. Occasionally I would announce new amazing totals to the rest of the family. I still remember the first time the tote board read $1,000,000, and the tear in Jerry Lewis’ eye as he thanked everyone who made it possible.

Then it would happen. The music would start to play in the background and Lewis would brace himself for the most emotional moment of all. He would sing, “When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high and don’t be afraid of the dark.”

As the music continued, his were not the only eyes that were tearing and by the time he reached the musical climax, everyone had become emotionally spent. “Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone. You’ll never, ever walk alone.”


Readings for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time  

Job 38: 1, 8-11

Psalm 107: 23-24, 25-26, 28-29, 30-31

2 Corinthians 5: 14-17

Mark 4: 35-41


Msgr. Joseph P. Calise is the pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish, Williamsburg.

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