Fr Frank’s Homily for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

By Fr Frank Brennan SJ, 22 June 2024
Pope Francis unveils sculpture dedicated to migrants and refugees in St. Peter's Square in September 2019. Image: Vatican Media/Vatican News.


Homily for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Readings: Job 38:1,8-11; Psalm 106(107):23-26, 28-32; 2 Corinthians 5:14-17; Mark 4:35-41

23 June 2024


In today’s gospel from Mark, Jesus makes his first journey across the sea of Galilee from the western Jewish side to the eastern Gentile side of the lake. These journeys are rarely straightforward. The disciples and Jesus are in one boat. There are other boats carrying followers. All boats encounter a rough storm out on the lake. Presumably, everyone is terrified. As are we when we contemplate the trouble spots of our world or the troubled aspects of our relationships. The boat is often a symbol of our Church. And there’s no doubt that the barque of Peter is taking quite a buffeting on the high seas of the world, popular culture and the media. The disciples awaken the untroubled, unflappable Jesus who asks them: “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” The scripture scholars tell us that the disciples’ failure “simply means that their closeness to Jesus does not absolve them from the need to enter more deeply into the mystery and paradox of God’s reign: that death and the power of evil will be the seeming victors, and that even Jesus, who now rescues them, will perish.” The scripture scholars tell us that the disciples’ fear and awe at Jesus’ command over the wind and the sea “is the foundation and beginning of wisdom”.[1]


It’s a pure coincidence that this scripture reading for today comes just after World Refugee Day which we marked on Thursday. At his general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis asked that the day be “an occasion to turn an attentive and fraternal gaze to all those who are compelled to flee their homes in search of peace and security”. Francis told the crowds in Rome, “We are all required to welcome, promote, accompany and integrate those who knock on our doors. I pray that States will strive to ensure humane conditions for refugees and to facilitate integration processes.”[2] This year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has asked us to focus on solidarity with refugees: “Solidarity means keeping our doors open, celebrating their strengths and achievements, and reflecting on the challenges they face.”[3]

We Australians are well used to the stories of the refugees who battle the high seas in leaky boats trying to reach our safe and secure shores. The image in today’s gospel with the disciples confronting the challenges of wind and sea finds resonance in the stories of those refugees who have arrived in Australia having faced almost unimaginable situations on the high seas.

Having been specifically invited to celebrate the strengths and achievements of some of these refugees, it helps if we put a human face on those with whom we are being invited to stand in solidarity. I like to think of our present Jesuit provincial here in Australia, Fr Quyen Vu SJ. He was 10 years old, the oldest of four children, when his family fled Vietnam after the Vietnam War. He and his younger brother were separated from the rest of the family. They ended up on a rickety fishing boat with 67 people on board. Another young boy on board died of dehydration. Quyen reflected: “I thought maybe my brother and myself would be next because we were young kids, and most of the others were teenagers or adults. It was very scary. All we could see was the ocean and the sky and the sea. No land, no greenery, nothing.”[4]

After 19 days at sea, they spotted land. It was another year before Quyen and his little brother were reunited with their family. Years later, Quyen and I, as fellow Jesuits from the Australian province, worked together in Timor Leste. Quyen was teaching in the Jesuit school. He had a commanding presence with the students who were emerging from the trauma and violence of their independence struggle. Discipline in the classroom was often an issue, but not for Quyen. He was able to share his own story with his students telling them that with freedom and education, the world could be their oyster. They believed him because he had been in the dark places they had known. For him, it was on the high seas; for them, it was in their villages with militia running wild.

Those of us blessed with freedom, education and faith have the wherewithal for confronting the violent winds and turbulent seas of life, or at least the assurance that we are not alone. When you doubt, take time out and hear the Lord asking you: “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”

Give thanks to the Lord whose love is everlasting.

They who sailed the sea in ships,
trading on the deep waters,
These saw the works of the Lord
and the Lord’s wonders in the abyss.

Give thanks to the Lord whose love is everlasting.

The Lord’s command raised up a storm wind
which tossed its waves on high.
They mounted up to heaven; they sank to the depths;
their hearts melted away in their plight.

Give thanks to the Lord whose love is everlasting.

They cried to the Lord in their distress;
from their straits the Lord rescued them,
The Lord hushed the storm to a gentle breeze,
and the billows of the sea were stilled.

Give thanks to the Lord whose love is everlasting.

They rejoiced that they were calmed,
and the Lord brought them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks for the Lord’s kindness
and wondrous deeds to all the children.

Give thanks to the Lord whose love is everlasting.

From the start of 2024, Fr Frank Brennan SJ will serve as part of a Jesuit team of priests working within a new configuration of the Toowong, St Lucia and Indooroopilly parishes in the Archdiocese of Brisbane. Frank Brennan SJ is a former CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA). Fr Frank’s latest book is An Indigenous Voice to Parliament: Considering a Constitutional Bridge, Garratt Publishing, 2023 and his forthcoming book is ‘Lessons from Our Failure to Build a Constitutional Bridge in the 2023 Referendum’ (Connor Court, 2024). 


[1] John R. Donahue and Daniel J. Harrington, The Gospel of Mark, Sacra Pagina Series (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2002), p. 161.

[2] See

[3] See



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