January 30, 2021 Saturday, Week 3 in Ordinary Time – St Aiden, bishop (Ferns); Bl Margaret Ball and Francis Taylor, martyrs (Dublin and Meath).
January 30, 2021
Saturday, Week 3 in Ordinary Time
St Aiden, bishop (Ferns); Bl Margaret Ball and Francis Taylor, martyrs (Dublin and Meath)
1st Reading: Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19
Divine blessing on Abraham and his descendants
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old, and Sarah herself was barren, because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.”
All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them. By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, of whom he had been told, “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” He considered the fact that God is able even to raise someone from the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
Responsorial: Luke 1:69-75
R./: Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people
God has raised up for us a mighty saviour
in the house of David his servant,
as he promised by the lips of holy men,
those who were his prophets from of old. (R./)
A Saviour who would free us from our foes,
from the hands of all who hate us.
So his love for our fathers is fulfilled
and his holy covenant remembered. (R./)
He swore to Abraham our father to grant us,
that free from fear, and saved from the hands of our foes,
we might serve him in holiness and justice
all the days of our life in his presence. (R./)
Gospel: Mark 4:35-41
Jesus calms the storm
When evening came Jesus said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace. Be still.” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
What assurance have we?
We are human beings, neither angels nor gods; we live on planet earth, not yet in our heavenly home. We deal with uncertain hopes and struggle with opposite tendencies within ourselves. At best, we hold to some noble ideals, implanted by nature and grace, and clarified in the Bible, our book of life. It invites us to reflect on the heroism of great women and men who went before us. These were ordinary folk, with human weakness and temptations, yet who lived with “confident assurance about things we do not see.” Hebrews imagines a cloud of witnesses hovering over us and beckoning us also to be men and women of heroic faith.
Ideals are more than phrases in a book, even a book as sacred as the Bible; they go beyond mere doctrines, for God is immediately involved. Abraham, Sarah and the other Old Testament saints are described as living like “strangers and foreigners on the earth”, because they experienced a deep longing for their homeland in the presence of the living God.
To his frightened disciples Jesus said, “Do not be afraid.” He is with us always, even during stormy times, when we fear the raging wind and are threatened by waves breaking against the boat of our lives. He asks us, as he asked them, “Why are you so afraid? Why so little faith?” He infuses us with new strength and points the way forward. He enables us to be patient, to remain faithful, and to keep putting our ideals to work.
Don’t you even care?
What a contrast between the calm of Jesus and his disciples’s cries of alarm when the storm breaks over their boat on the lake of Galilee. He was lying in the stern of the boat, asleep, with his head on a cushion. The disciples were in a panic and woke him up to complain, “Master, do you not care? We are going down.”
The fact that Jesus could stay asleep even through the noise of the storm shows his great calm. His disciples’ panic was normal, but it also showed their lack of trust in God. He asks, “Why are you so frightened? How is it that you have no faith?” He wanted them to share his own trust in God even in the howling wind and lashing rain blowing over the stormy lake.
We all face storms of one kind or another in our lives. We have lived through stormy times in our church in recent decades, between scandals, defections and virtual schisms. Yet we trust that God is near us, even in the midst of the most threatening times. We are to share Jesus’ own trusting relationship with God, even when the ground seems to shake under us, and the outlook is grim. As Jesus was in the boat with the disciples, he is with us too as individuals and as a church. If we trust him he will bring us safe to the other side, the far shore, after all the storms have blown over.