Season after Pentecost | 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49 and Psalm 9:9-20 or 1 Samuel 17:57-18:5, 18:10-16 and Psalm 133; (Job 38:1-11; Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32;) 2 Corinthians 6:1-13; Mark 4:35-41
The “Jesus asleep in the boat during a terrible storm” story has always seemed unfair to me. I feel for the disciples when they wake him; they are understandably angry that he doesn’t seem to care that they are about to die. I’d be just as angry at Jesus for appearing so calm in the midst of real danger. The disciples are uncomfortable that Jesus is not acting according to the category of “concerned friend,” much less “messiah”—so they kind of yell at him. And when it comes down to it, who hasn’t yelled at God during the storms of life?
It’s the second movement of Leonard Bernstein’s choral work, Chichester Psalms. A boy soprano (or a countertenor), in the “role” of the shepherd boy, David, sings in Hebrew the opening verses of Psalm 23. He is accompanied–sparingly, fittingly–by the harp. The first several measures are tender but not tentative; filled with sentiment, but without sentimentality (this per Bernstein’s instructions). When the women’s voices take over the text at גַּם כִּי־אֵלֵךְ בְּגֵיא צַלְמָוֶת . . . (Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death . . .) there’s an ethereal echo-canon effect. This part of the movement, when executed well, is something sublime.