Homily – 12th Sunday Ordinary Time

Good morning everyone. We welcome Kiah and Caleb here today to become new members of the Christian community. They have already been blessed by God with the gift of life. They’ve been blessed by the gift of loving parents and godparents. And today we will be receivers of the blessings which they already are. So welcome and welcome guests and family members and everyone else here today is welcome to Brooklyn Heights and a nice, heat wave that we’re in here.

So fortunate we have air conditioning here. It’s one of the few churches in Brooklyn that has air conditioning, by the way. So, make sure you tell other people that so they can come here right. as you know, some of you may know my name is Father John. And I come back here in the summer to help out, especially when Father Joe is on vacation.

And. But I live in California, and I think about the time when I first went to California. It was probably about ten years ago now. I was doing a cross-country road trip with my two sisters, and the way that we were planning this road trip was that we were going to stop at different national parks, state parks and camp along the way.

So we didn’t have a lot of money at the time. In fact, I was in the seminary. I wasn’t making any money, so it was pretty sweet deal being able to pay like $10 for a campsite and you set up your tent and, and then you move on to the next site. That was a great way to explore the country, but I’ll never forget the time we were in New Mexico.

I forget the town that we were in, or exactly we were in the state, but we go to the campground, we set up the tents, and this massive storm happens overnight while we’re sleeping, like it was a massive, like, like hurricane type thing. I know there’s a hurricanes in New Mexico, but it was like that type of feeling where things are blowing all over the place.

And I’m like laying there in the sleeping bag. And my other sister, Mary Kate, and I are like up and like looking around thinking like, what are we going to do? Like, is the tent going to blow away or something? It was it was so strong. And we’re just like, can you so like very fearful. And then my other sister Megan, she was in the middle between us, sound asleep.

In fact, when she woke up the next day, she didn’t even know there was a storm. I was like, how did you not hear the storm? It was all night long. The howling winds, a tent moving all over the place, sound asleep. I think about that time with her as she was laying there on her air mattress, and how it relates to the gospel.

We just heard of Jesus laying on the cushion as some major storms happening and the boats. I think about that in a more broader sense. Two because there’s something about the cushion that isn’t just an incidental detail that the gospel writer puts in. We probably would get the same story if it just said Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat, but instead it says Jesus, lying on a cushion, was in the stern of the boat.

Sometimes details matter, and I think about that because many of the great religious traditions that emphasize meditation talk about spending time on the cushion. It’s an expression to spend time on the cushion. Now, if you can visualize in your mind, maybe like a Zen practitioner who’s sitting cross-legged, lotus style, maybe on a cushion, kind of in that meditative state, that spending time on the cushion.

What’s the whole point about spending time on the cushion? It’s because it provides a moment in time for you to be fully aware of everything that’s going on around you. Sometimes people struggle with meditation because they feel like, well, I just need to silence my mind. I need to go to a place where it’s super quiet so I’m not distracted.

But really, spending time on the cushion is more about being in the midst of the storm and just being fully present to all the things going around you. Parents. You spend time on the cushion every day in the midst of the storm with your children right? But what are you doing on the cushion? It’s an expression called holding space.

And what holding space means that you are just there, present to a bunch of things that are not in your control, and being realizing that it’s this very moment that you’re in that’s not something that you orchestrated.

And as you sit there on the cushion, just being present to what’s around you, you begin to realize that maybe you’re not the one holding space. Maybe someone else is. Let me give you a more practical expression or example. Yesterday, I was taking the bus from LaGuardia over here to Brooklyn. It was the 33. It’s a bus route that I don’t typically go on.

So we know what the temptation is when we’re in transit somewhere. It’s a time to read a book, listen to a podcast, look at your phone. There’s tons of things you can do to fill up the time. But I took that moment on that bus to sit on the cushion cushion. I mean, that bus seat wasn’t very much of a cushion.

It was a hard plastic seat. And just listening to what’s going on around me, looking at different people and realizing, like, everyone has a story. Everyone’s rushing here to get there. Everyone’s frustrated about this. Some people are delightful about that, and you start getting little windows into how people are living their lives, and you soon begin to realize that maybe we’re not as different as we think.

Maybe everyone is just trying to do the best they can with what they have. That’s spending time on the cushion. Do you realize that all of the stresses and the concerns and the worries of the world are actually being held by someone greater than yourself? Because at the end of the day, none of us ever made a decision to be born to live in this world during this time, in this space, these two children who are about to be baptized, they will make lots of decisions as they grow older in their life.

But the most important decision was not made by them. Their birth, their existence. It’s the same for us when we hold space, we come to realize that we are being held. Our lives are gifts, and at that point, there’s nothing to fear. And even in the midst of storms, what Jesus reveals to us ultimately, is that faith is not something that you consent to, but it’s something that you actually receive.

It’s not believing in something that’s a mystery. That’s an unknown thing. It’s believing that someone has faith in you. God’s faithfulness towards us is revealed in the fact that we exist, and that we continue to breathe, and that our heart continues to tick, and that we’re meant to be here at this moment in time. That is a faithful God who believes in us.

One of the most exciting things about a child is, believe it or not, when they come out of the womb, they’re perfect. They have in their soul God’s special particular type of plan for them, a particular calling, a particular way of being in this world. Unfortunately, it’s us humans or adults. I just say who like to get in the way.

But if you’re sitting on the cushion as your child, screaming or doing things that you don’t want him or her to be doing, just be present to what God is already doing in and through him and her. That’s what you’re present to, and allow that to continue to grow from this point forward so they can become who they’re meant to become.

Don’t get in the way. Don’t tell them, don’t do that. Don’t do that. Because if they’re trying to grab the hot stove, tell them not to do that. But as they get older, especially, help them to say yes to the call that’s already there at this moment in their heart, indelibly on their soul. And this great gift of baptism is a gentle reminder to all of us that we are already loved and blessed by God.

So let’s use water to remove those things which can sometimes get in the way of that. So if you’re ever in a storm in New Mexico, sometimes it pays just to stay asleep because when you wake up the next day, you’re still there. Amen.


Let’s do some baptisms. What do you think? All right.