July 4, 2023
Tuesday of the Thirteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Readings for Today
Saint Elizabeth of Portugal—Optional Memorial
(Celebrated July 5 in the USA)
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. Matthew 8:23–24
This experience had quite an impression upon the disciples, which is evidenced by the fact that it is recorded in all three Synoptic Gospels. We also see this in the concluding words of the story after Jesus calmed the storm: “The men were amazed and said, ‘What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?’”
Traditionally, this story has been interpreted as both an image of the Church as a whole, as well as the individual soul. The boat is an image of the Church through which we Christians navigate the perils of this life. We must remain in the Church to survive. Each person within the boat represents each one of us who is a member of the Church. The violent storm is an image of the many personal struggles we endure in life, as well as the persecutions that the Church has endured and will continue to endure until the end of time.
As the storm took hold of the boat, Jesus was asleep. But He was asleep for a reason. As we look at human history, especially the history of the Church, we find many times when God has seemed absent or “asleep” when turmoil, persecution, and hardship have arisen. Many people, if not all, have had the same experience at one time or another in life. As the disciples experience this storm, they offer us an ideal way to pray when we are tempted to despair in life. They wake Jesus and say, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And though Jesus rebukes them for their lack of faith and their fear, He also responds to their pleas and calms the storm.
What should the disciples have done in this case? Should they have trusted and allowed Jesus to remain asleep? Though our Lord did rebuke them for lacking faith, this story is primarily a revelation about God’s mercy when we are tempted to fear. God knows that at times we will all feel overwhelmed and find ourselves tempted in this way. He knows our faith is not perfect, and so He allowed His disciples to set this example for us. Thus, whenever we do find ourselves overwhelmed and fearful in life, we should cry out to Him to save us. He wants us to turn to Him.
Reflect, today, upon this prayer of the disciples. If you find that you are facing some personal crisis, or a larger family difficulty that remains unresolved, or are increasingly aware of other struggles afflicting the Church or society as a whole, then try to imitate this prayer of the disciples: “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” Though these words, at first, may seem to be words of despair, they are actually words of hope and trust. They point us to Him Who is the only source of the peace we seek in our souls, families, the Church and our world. Look for the many ways that you and others experience the feeling of “perishing,” and cry out with all your heart to our Lord to save you and all who are in need.
Most powerful Lord, I am amazed at Your divine power and ability to perfectly calm the storms that afflict Your people. Please fill me with hope and humility so that I will never hesitate to turn to You in my need and to also cry out to You for Your continuous intervention in the lives of others. Awake, oh Lord, and save Your people, for we will truly perish without You! Jesus, I trust in You.
Saints of the Day –