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Tuesday – Thirteenth week – OT1
Readings: Gen 19:15-19; Mt 8:23-27.
1/ First Reading: RSV Genesis 19:15 When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.” 16 But he lingered; so the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him forth and set him outside the city. 17 And when they had brought them forth, they said, “Flee for your life; do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley; flee to the hills, lest you be consumed.” 18 And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords; 19 behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life; but I cannot flee to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me, and I die.”
2/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 8:23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him, saying, “Save, Lord; we are perishing.” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. 27 And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”
I. THEME: Faith is the most precious gift of our life.
People are worry and afraid of catastrophes and sufferings under all forms in their life. Knowing this critical point, the devil and worldly powers use it to prevent people to live according to the truth. People need to practice in order to have a strong faith in God. Only with an unshakable faith, they can face temptations and sufferings to live and to witness for the truth.
Today readings talk about people’s fear and worry. In the first reading, Lot and his family feared and worried when they saw two cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, were burned by fire and brimstones from heaven although they were saved by angels and knew the way to escape. In the Gospel, Jesus’ apostles were in terrible fear when they faced a strong storm of the Galilee Sea. Jesus woke up and gave an order to quiet the storm. He rebuked them as people of little faith.
1/ Reading I: God’s punishment on two cities, Sodom and Gomorrah
1.1/ The Lord saved Lot’s family from death.
(1) The reason why Sodom was destroyed: In the previous passages, two angels of the Lord accepted Lot’s invitation to spend a night in his house. In that night, many males of the city, old and young, came and knocked on Lot’s door. They want Lot to bring the two guests out so they could commit “sodomy” with them. Lot begged and offered them with his two daughters but they didn’t want them. When two angels of the Lord heard their blasphemy from inside the house, they decided to destroy the city of Sodom.
(2) The angels saved Lot’s family: “When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.”But he lingered; so the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him forth and set him outside the city.”
A strange thing helps us to meditate: Living in such a dangerous and sinful place, Lot is still lingering. He didn’t have courage to reject material temptations and to get his family out of that place so he can find a healthy environment for them to live. This is completely his desire from the beginning when Abraham let him choose first. If the two angels didn’t forcefully pull their hands out and let him choose, he might be in the same fate with people of Sodom.
(3) The angels’ commandment: “When they had brought them forth, they said, “Flee for your life; do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley; flee to the hills, lest you be consumed.””
1.2/ Lot negotiated with the two angels: It is not clear whether Lot regretted what he had or feared of a life on the mountain, Lot said to the two guests, “Oh, no, my lords;behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life; but I cannot flee to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me, and I die.”
First of all, Lot didn’t have faith in God as Abraham, his uncle. Facing of death, he still negotiated with the angels. He didn’t believe God can take care of his family on the mountain, so he negotiated with the angels, so he could take refuge in Zoar, a small city near-by.
Lot’s wife, either out of regretting her belonging or curiosity, disobeyed the angel’s command and looked back at the city, she immediately turned to the column of salt. This event must help us to completely put our trust in God and carefully keep what He commands. We can’t foresee our future and aren’t wise enough to know what is good for us; therefore, we need to absolutely obey and do according to God’s will.
2/ Gospel: “Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?”
2.1/ Two reactions when facing the storm
(1) Jesus’ reaction: Matthews reported, “Behold! there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.” Why could Jesus sleep when the waves were in such violence? It may be due to the following two reasons: First, Jesus fears nothing. Only a person who fears nothing may have such true peace. Secondly, all wordly powers must be afraid of him. When the apostles awoke him, “He rose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.”
(2) The apostles’ reaction: There is no fisherman which has no fear of storm because he believes a storm can take away their life at any time. The fishermen have a tradition to pray to God or the heaven before the fishing season to ask for the protection from all storms. If they asked for protection, they must believe in God or the heaven’s protection; but their fearful reaction when facing the storm show that they didn’t believe in God’s protection or their faith is weak as Jesus rebuked his apostles in today passage. The apostles often saw Jesus’ working of miracles which no human being can do it, and Jesus is with them in the boat; they are still fear of the storm!
2.2/ Faith is necessary for people to overcome all obstacles in their life: Jesus rebuked his disciples, “Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?” Faith can be liken as experience which a person has in his life. Both faith and experience need to be tested. The experience shall not be easy to fear as the one who has just be graduated and has no experience. Similarly, the one who has a strong faith shall not fear of threatening and persecution of worldly powers; they are ready to accept even death to witness for the truth.
When people has no fear of anything, even death, they begin to live and fully live. When people don’t fear of all worldly powers, the world must be fear of them. We can see this point in Christ’s disciples: Before Christ went up to heaven, his disciples were fearful when they faced the Sandherin and the Roman power; all of them ran away from Christ and Peter denied him three times. After the disciples saw Jesus rising from death, they have no fear of anyone. Why? Because they realized that wordly powers can take away their physical life, but Christ shall raise them up; no worldly power can touch their soul. Therefore, after they were strengthened by the Holy Spirit, they opened all doors to go into the world and to be witnesses for Christ. The Sandherin’s members were astonished when they see the apostles are no longer afraid of them. The apostles publicly argues with the Sanhedrin’s members and they couldn’t answer their questions. Instead of using their power to suppress them as before, they are afraid to suppress them. They feared the apostles, not because they have no power, but because they feared of people who are ready to stone them when they recognize their hypocrisy.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We live in this world with a purpose to reach the ultimate goal of our life, not to find money for enjoyment. Therefore, we must have courage to avoid all dangers that prevent us to reach our goal.
– We need to practice to have a strong faith in God’s providence. Only a strong faith can help us to overcome all storms of our life. If we don’t have it, we shall easily be felt to temptations of our enemies and be destroyed together with them.