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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Tuesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading (Gen 19:15-29): As dawn was breaking, the angels urged Lot on, saying, «On your way! Take with you your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of Sodom». When he hesitated, the men, by the Lord's mercy, seized his hand and the hands of his wife and his two daughters and led them to safety outside the city. As soon as they had been brought outside, he was told: «Flee for your life! Don't look back or stop anywhere on the Plain. Get off to the hills at once, or you will be swept away». «Oh, no, my lord!», Lot replied, «You have already thought enough of your servant to do me the great kindness of intervening to save my life. But I cannot flee to the hills to keep the disaster from overtaking me, and so I shall die. Look, this town ahead is near enough to escape to. It's only a small place. Let me flee there —it's a small place, is it not?— that my life may be saved». «Well, then», he replied, «I will also grant you the favor you now ask. I will not overthrow the town you speak of. Hurry, escape there! I cannot do anything until you arrive there». That is why the town is called Zoar.

The sun was just rising over the earth as Lot arrived in Zoar; at the same time the Lord rained down sulphurous fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah from the Lord out of heaven. He overthrew those cities and the whole Plain, together with the inhabitants of the cities and the produce of the soil. But Lot's wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt. Early the next morning Abraham went to the place where he had stood in the Lord's presence. As he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and the whole region of the Plain, he saw dense smoke over the land rising like fumes from a furnace. Thus it came to pass: when God destroyed the Cities of the Plain, he was mindful of Abraham by sending Lot away from the upheaval by which God overthrew the cities where Lot had been living.
Responsorial Psalm: 25
R/. O Lord, your mercy is before my eyes.
Search me, o Lord, and try me; test my soul and my heart. For your mercy is before my eyes, and I walk in your truth.

Gather not my soul with those of sinners, nor with men of blood my life. On their hands are crimes, and their right hands are full of bribes.

But I walk in integrity; redeem me, and have mercy on me. My foot stands on level ground; in the assemblies I will bless the Lord.
Versicle before the Gospel (Ps 129:5): Alleluia. I trust in the Lord; my soul trusts in his word. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 8:23-27): As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. The men were amazed and said, “What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?”

“Then he stood up and ordered the wind and sea; and it became completely calm”

Fr. Lluc TORCAL Monk of Santa Maria de Poblet (Santa Maria de Poblet, Tarragona, Spain)

Today, the liturgy offers us one of the most shocking fragments of our Lord's public life. The scene shows a great vivacity that contrasts radically with the disciples' attitude and Jesus' behavior. We can imagine how frightened they must have been on the boat when “suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves” (Mt 8:24), though their distress was not enough to awake Jesus, who was sleeping. It was up to the disciples in despair to wake up the Master! “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” they cried (Mt 8:25).

The evangelist, taking advantage of these dramatic events, reveals to us the true essence of Jesus. The storm was still raging and the disciples full of fear and confusion, when Jesus, simply and calmly, “rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm” (Mt 8:26). Jesus' Word brought the calm over the waters; but this calm was not meant to affect only the turbulent winds and waters of the lake: Jesus' Word, above all, was addressed to appease his disciples' fearful hearts. “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” (Mt 8:26).

And from embarrassment and fear the disciples shifted to admiration and astonishment, for they had witnessed this prodigy, unheard of until then. The surprise, the admiration, the wonder of such a drastic change in a situation they were living awakened in them a central question: “What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?” (Mt 8:27). Who can assuage storms on earth and skies and, at the same time, those in men's hearts? Only He, who «sleeping as a man in a boat, can command the wind and the sea as God» (Nicetas of Remesiana).

Whenever we may be afraid the earth is collapsing under our feet, let us not forget that our Savior is God himself made man, and that He is always close to us.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “He took His disciples with Him, and in a boat, that they might learn two lessons; first, not to be confounded in dangers, secondly, to think lowly of themselves in honour.” (Saint John Chrysostom)

  • “Jesus does not want us to be passive people; He wants us to be active, responsible instruments, but at the same time, full of hope. This is the key to face the storms of life.” (Benedict XVI)

  • “Filial trust is put to the test when we feel that our prayer is not always heard. The Gospel invites us to ask ourselves about the conformity of our prayer to the desire of the Spirit.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nº 2756)