The First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church (opt. Memorial)
Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel,
against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt:
You only have I known of all the families of the earth;
therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. Do two walk together unless they have made an appointment?
Does a lion roar in the forest, when it has no prey?
Does a young lion cry out from its den, if it has caught nothing?
Does a bird fall into a snare on the earth, when there is no trap for it?
Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid?
Does disaster befall a city, unless the Lord has done it?
Surely the Lord God does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?
I overthrew some of you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,
and you were like a brand snatched from the fire;
yet you did not return to me, says the Lord. Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel;
because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!
You are no God who loves evil;
no sinner is your guest.
The boastful shall not stand their ground
before your face.(R./)
You hate all who do evil:
you destroy all who lie.
The deceitful and bloodthirsty man
the Lord detests. (R./)
But I through the greatness of your love
have access to your house.
I bow down before your holy temple,
filled with awe. (R./)
Jesus got into the boat and his disciples followed him. A wind-storm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, you of little faith?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?"
In face of anxiety and danger, God saves those who trust in him and those for whom others pray. The disciples in the boat are amazed at Jesus' power over the wind and the waves. But if people persist in cruelly sinful behaviour, unwilling to give up living off others' inhuman working conditions, then prophets like Amos are impelled by God to cry out in the name of the poor. We might say that today's readings present us with the stick and the carrot. Amos threatens God's vengeance on those who will not repent, even citing the classic ruin of Sodom and Gomorrah; while Matthew reminds us of the power of Christ to help in our time of need.
Our faith in providence and our trust in Jesus can help us survive storms and disturbances and not be driven to despair. Expecting their storm-tossed boat to sink at any moment, the terrified disciples wake up Jesus who was sleeping through it all. He looks at them and asks, "Where is your courage?" The gale is still blowing, but they somehow know he can save them. Then when the storm died down, they were amazed that even the winds and the sea obey him.
Whoever "wakes up" the presence of Jesus in our heart, even if in desperation, and stays with him long enough, will gain a new self-assurance from his presence, and inner peace.
The meteorological causes of storms are well known to us today, much better than in the days of the apostles. We know all about the jet-stream and about constantly alternating areas of high and low pressure. Even in Summer our weather can change suddenly. The gospel suggests that the onset of this particular storm on the Sea of Galilee was sudden: "without warning a storm broke over the lake." The apostles were caught unaware, and their situation was dire. They expected to be drowned.
We know from experience that our own personal circumstances can change without warning. We suddenly find ourselves tossed by some raging personal storm. One day all is well; the next day we are in crisis. To that extent the gospel today speaks to our own personal experience.
Matthew's telling about the storm on the lake links it to the experience of his local Christians more than Mark's report of the same story. In Mark, the disciples woke jesus, who was asleep in the stern, and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” But the more despairing cry of the disciples: "Save us, Lord, we are going down" echoes the cry of those for whom Matthew was writing. It is the cry of all of us at some time in our lives. Matthew assures us that the Lord will answer our cry. Our prayer for help in critical times will not go unanswered. The Lord is stronger than any storm that threatens, and in turning to him, we lean on his powerful grace.