Biblical Readings for each day's Mass,
(for the Liturgical Year 2021)

Tuesday, August 3 32021
Week 18 in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Numbers 12:1-13

Despite the envy of Aaron and Miriam God appoints Moses as supreme leader of his people

Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had indeed married a Cushite woman); and they said, "Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?" And the Lord heard it. Now the man Moses was very humble, more so than anyone else on the face of the earth. Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, "Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting." So the three of them came out. Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud, and stood at the entrance of the tent, and called Aaron and Miriam; and they both came forward. And he said, "Hear my words:

When there are prophets among you, I the Lord make myself known to them in visions; I speak to them in dreams. Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly, not in riddles; and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and he departed.

When the cloud went away from over the tent, Miriam had become leprous, as white as snow. And Aaron turned towards Miriam and saw that she was leprous. Then Aaron said to Moses, "Oh, my lord, do not punish us for a sin that we have so foolishly committed. Do not let her be like one stillborn, whose flesh is half consumed when it comes out of its mother's womb." And Moses cried to the Lord, "O God, please heal her."

Responsorial: Psalm 50:3-7, 12-13

R./: Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
  In your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
  and cleanse me from my sin. (R./)

My offences truly I know them;
  my sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned;
  what is evil in your sight I have done. (R./)

That you may be justified when you give sentence
  and be without reproach when you judge,
O see, in guilt I was born,
  a sinner was I conceived. (R./)

A pure heart create for me, O God,
  put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
  nor deprive me of your holy spirit. (R./)

Gospel: Matthew 14:22-36

Jesus retires to pray, walks on water, saves Peter from sinking

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them.

And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid."

Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."

When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. After the people of that place recognized him, they sent word throughout the region and brought all who were sick to him, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

Frictions in the family

Again God rescues his servant in a moment of crisis, defending Moses against the envy of Miriam and Aaron. The disciples of Jesus have their own crisis when they are tossed in a violent storm on the lake of Galilee, but they too are saved. The friction among siblings was caused by Miriam and Aaron taking scandal at Moses' marriage with a foreign woman. The second crisis was metereological, from a sudden windstorm sweeping down the Lake of Galilee. No circumstance is beyond the care of the Lord to help us.

It is consoling that such common frictions as sibling envy and resistance to a marriage could affect someone of the stature of Moses. In light of his exceptional intimacy with God, and his leadership of the nation, one might think him exempt from everyday problems. Note how throughout the episode we never hear from Moses himself, who remains silent under the criticism. Like the Suffering Servant in Isaiah, there is "no crying out, no shouting, no making his voice heard in the street" etc (Isa 42:2-3). He was "the humblest man on the face of the earth." Strange, that Moses who accomplished so much knew how to keep silent. As the sage Ecclesiastes remarked, "There is an time for everything, a time for every affair under the heavens. . .a time to be silent, and a time to speak (Eccles 3:1,7).

"Lord, teach me to hold my tongue." During family disputes there is a time for silence. This reconciling spirit continues into the gospels: Jesus saves the disciples, adrift on stormy waters on the Lake of Galilee. Silence and prayer, whether it be like Moses silent before his detractors, or like Jesus who "went up on the mountain by himself to pray" makes space for God to come to our help.

Moments of prayer

There are three moments of prayer in today's gospel. First, Jesus went up into the hills by himself to pray. This is the prayer of contemplation, communion with his heavenly Father. The second is the desperate plea of Peter, "Lord, save me." This is the prayer of all those who feel threatened or overwhelmed by some situation or other. We can probably all identify with this second moment of prayer, when we have a sense of ourselves as sinking. In response to Peter's prayer, Jesus held him up.

The third is the prayer of the disciples in the boat after the wind dropped, "Truly, you are the Son of God." This is the prayer of praise, acknowledging Jesus for all that he is. Peter's plea is bracketed by Jesus' prayer of communion and the disciples' prayer of praise. Even though the prayer of petition comes most easily to us, we are also called to contemplation and to praise.